The canoe floated on top of the water, light as a leaf. I lay in the bottom, feeling the sun hit my face in the spaces between the leaf cover over head. Opening my eyes every so often, I kept track of how far I’d floated. The rapids were miles away and not a worry, but the long paddle back was a consideration against the deceptive river’s flow.
I’d put the canoe in way up river, where rocky cliffs rise on the far side, like a climbing wall straight up from the water. It moved quicker there, a fun place to start, knowing that the river got wide and lazy a half mile away, and here I was with the canoe rocking like a hammock.
Yes, this was the vacation I’d been longing for. Not a compromise vacation of restaurants and shops in a different location each year, lovely, of course, but eventually it was like eating too much frosting. I’d begun to feel unnourished and ghostlike.
I sat up to skim the water, it was like a bath at the top where the sun had spent the afternoon warming it, but it was at least 10 feet deep here. This was the spot where the bass grew large and wily at the cold bottom, evading my brothers’ hooks year after year. The river was a childhood friend, so familiar and yet much changed. Houses were going up beyond the cliffs and fences were dividing the land. Access was becoming a challenge.
I scooped a brown pine needle out of the water and rolled it between my fingers. The trees leaned over the water, reaching, and I stretched my arms toward them, reaching back.