This is the time of year when only piercing calls of blue-jays or woodpeckers cut the still air, or perhaps, the distant scree of a hawk free from nesting obligations and looking for dinner movement under the leaf bed on the floor of the forest. The temperature requires a jacket, but if you are too energetic in your paddling it must come off and lay at your feet in the canoe. The air smells musty and brown and the lighting is rusty and warm. This week has been the most magnificent week of fall color which buoyed my spirits like a whiff of Cloud 9.
The water's surface was glass and my paddle was the first thing that disturbed its perfection before the canoe's bow itself broke below a gentle V. With each stroke my dismay floated away behind and toward some distant shore to be broken into tiny pieces of light where the river met the land. A few people were on their docks with determined usefulness winterizing watercraft and stowing small fun stuff up on shore under tarps or into sheds. An eager, large brown dog, the color of the oak leaves, greeted us at the end of his dock with dynamite energy and ebullient barking cracking through the fall air. Such energetic friendliness made me think for a moment that he might leap and join us mid-canoe since he could see what a wonderful time we were having. He understood what a precious day this was.
Our old aluminum canoe has been with us since we lived in Texas in the early 1970's. It has met waters in the U.S. and Canada and waited patiently for us in storage while we lived in Asia. It has bounced across rocks in rivers and ridden over small rapids on shallows and become stuck in muddy nooks in marshes. It is very stable unless you have no understanding of canoes, then it will fling you like a frat boy into the water. Hubby and I have never tipped this canoe, even when riding across the careless wake of some motorboat. Others we loaned it to were not so lucky. It is my old friend and it reassured me that whatever was bothering me on this day will pass as surely as we pass that yellow beech. It hummed gently as we broke the glassy surface re-painting the mirrored reflections on shore. It was a good old friend.
A lone deer watched us from the front yard of a summer cabin that had been closed for the coming winter. Hunting season had arrived and he/she was very alert, yet did not bound into the shade of the woods at our appearance as we made our way into a small pocket of the river.
There are those perfect days when most of the sky is covered in soft cloud and the sun is at that low angle which sets its aim like the perfect arrow as it shoots its glow into the heart of earth. Everything gets magically lit and what I see is some painting done by an artist in love with nature because it is too beautiful to be real. When I returned home feeling better I got a perfect email that shut that roller coaster down all the way and with a sigh I enjoyed the warm sunset's glow after dinner.