Sunday, November 2, 2014

Day on the river

I spent a day on the river with my brother. We canoed the Hillsboro River in Florida on a warm Autumn day. We unloaded the canoe, carrying it the short distance to the river. As I stepped into the water quicksilver flashes of minnows darted about my ankles. Carefully we got into the canoe and pushed off.

The canoe glided along the river and I trailed my hand in the cool water touching the reflection of the sky. Clouds of dragonflies dipped and swerved across our path, shining jewel bright in the sun; ruby, sapphire, emerald dots flitting on the mild breeze.

Flocks of ibis roosted in the trees, looking like tiny angels peeking from behind the curtains of Spanish Moss. Cormorants dove into the water chasing the elusive fish. Shadowy blue herons danced at the shore their movements as graceful as ballerinas, necks arching, eyes glittering, legs lifting in slow ellipses.

Alligators basked on fallen trees, absorbing the heat of the sun, looking like prehistoric beasts defying time and space. All is quiet, the world is timeless, we could be Seminole Indians seeking a new life among the cypress and palms instead of a brother and a sister escaping the noise and traffic of the 21st Century.

We drew close to shore to gaze eye to eye with alligators. We almost touched the turtles, their shells curving from the nearby rocks. The call of an owl broke the afternoon silence, lonely and near, my brother responded answering its plaintive cry. The owl answered but then like a memory, faded away.

We paddled into coves ducking under branches, passing cypress roots reaching toward the sky like arthritic fingers seeking solace. The shadows lengthened crisscrossing the water, sunlight broke through to spotlight the dancing minnows and darting dragonflies in their primordial waltz.

We glided, we paused, we spoke in low voices that carried across the water to echo back to us. We nervously laughed as an alligator surfaced and swirled the water beside our canoe. Ahead of us fish jump breaking the surface, tails slapping the water scattering rainbow drops before diving deep into the bed of the river.

Too soon the sun dropped low and the shadows covered more of the river than the light. We headed back to the shore, to reality, to Life, taking a bit of the river's peace with us, to remember and reflect upon in our busy noisy world.

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