I love rivers on foggy mornings. There’s something strangely chilling yet playful about misty apparitions teasing the surface of the water, touching here, floating away there, swirling like an immense troupe of arabesque dancers. There’s stillness in the dazzling movement.
And it’s all water…water dancing on water.
I’ve been on many canoe trips with my friend Nanook of the Nashwaak and seen the most magnificent things: crashing gorges, thunderous falls, sunlight shimmering on wavelets in the morning, treacherous ledges, rushing sluices and gentle rainfall dappling the water as the canoe slides quietly across the surface.
Eagles gliding over the horizon.
What stokes my soul though is the sound and presence of the water. We go to the water in the Spring, when the land sheds its snow in the form of ice cold crystal clear freshet water. It moves furiously through the reawakened forests sprouting flowers, leaves and alder bushes. Lots of alder bushes.
It’s an explosion of life.
Nanook and I spend long periods without saying a word…sipping beer, paddling gently and listening to the water. The sound gets into you, the endless rippling and gurgling. And it all flows into itself. The water from the high ground flows down through streams and creeks that flow into streams and creeks like a vast system of capillaries and arteries that continue their furious rush to the rivers and lakes and all the while feeding the land and kick-starting it back to life.
Sitting in the canoe, I can feel this massive organic presence through the sound of its awakening, the sound of its freshet blood flowing through it. I sip my beer and wish everyone could hear this.
Then they’d understand.