Canoeing to My Destiny
Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne
The wind was still blowing as I knelt in front of the huge tree. I could feel debris blowing all around me. Something struck me on the back of my head. The last thing I remembered was falling forward, before the darkness enveloped me.
As I lay there, memories began racing through my mind. I must have been in some state of semi consciousness. Most of my thoughts were about the fun times I had experienced with Sandy. I remembered the time at the amusement park. I remembered the time at the zoo. I remembered how we went tobogganing, which resulted in our crashing into a tree.
I remembered the time she hit the control for the garage door by mistake, when she was backing out of the garage. The end result was a large scratch on the top of the car. We never really noticed it until we climbed up into an abandoned forest fire lookout tower. As we looked out over the treetops, I happened to look down onto the car.
That is when I noticed the huge scrape that ran from the front to the back of the roof. I pointed it out Sandy. We laughed, and I commented that if you had to have a scratch, it might as well be where only the birds could see it.
One memory was incredibly vivid. It was a memory of our first Christmas together as man and wife. Sandy had expressed to me that she wanted a real Christmas tree. The rules in our apartment building forbad real trees, due to the fire hazard. I decided that if my girl wanted a real tree, that was what she would get. We bundled up in our warmest clothes and headed out to find a tree.
The first tree farm was fun and exciting. It had deer, and geese, and wagon rides. When we went out in the field to look for trees, we were greatly disappointed. Most of the good ones had already been cut. The others were too short or too tall. We left and headed over to another tree farm. Unfortunately for us, we discovered that the owners had closed it for the season.
We drove along, rather discouraged, but enjoying the scenery all around us. The trees were heavy with snow. A large tom turkey crossed the road in front of us. His huge waddle swayed back and forth as he walked. We spotted some horses trotting in a field, enjoying the warmth of the winter sun. Almost by accident, we spotted a small sign that pointed to a place where Christmas trees were for sale.
We drove down a long, pine lined driveway, to a very cozy looking cabin. A jolly looking man came out to greet us. He told us that he had planted several plot of trees and used the extra money to supplement his income. He showed us the areas where we could find the trees and handed us a saw.
We chose to head to the nearest plot, which took us over a small bridge. As we crossed over the bridge, we noticed that the water was still flowing in some sections. Crystal clear ice rimmed the edges near the shoreline. The stones in the bottom of the stream shone with much brilliance and clarity in the clear cold water.
We continued down the path until we came to a sign that pointed in the direction of the trees. I looked around and spotted a number of acceptable trees. It no longer became a question of finding a good tree, but rather which one was the right one for us. Sandy spotted one that she liked. It was different from the one I had chosen. In the Christmas spirit, I deferred to her tree.
The saw was very sharp, and it did not take long before I was jelling "Timber". The tree fell, I tied a rope around it, and together, we began dragging it back to the cabin. The bridge was a little too narrow, so we had to lift the tree to get it over and onto the other side. The owner complemented us on our choice and helped us tie it onto the top of our car. I wasn't too worried about scratches, because if you remember, the top of the car was already scratched.
We paid the friendly man and then headed out through the tunnel of pines. Once we were on the gravel road, we began to sing heartily, as we headed in the direction of our home. I noticed that my fuel gauge indicated I was getting a little low, so I began looking for a gas station. It wasn't long before I found one and pulled in to gas up. I climbed out of the car and began filling up the tank.
I looked up to check on my tree, and to my astonishment, found nothing. One of the ropes must have come loose and the tree had fallen off the roof. I opened the door of the car and told Sandy that the tree was gone. Her eyes widened and she stared at me in disbelief. She thought I was kidding and climbed out of the car to see for herself.
She stared at me with a look of disbelief. I told her to not worry. I assured her that we would go back and look for it. We finished filling up the car and then turned around to retrace our steps. Fortunately, not too far down the road, we found our tree lying in a ditch. Several branches had broken, but it was in good shape otherwise.
We placed the tree back on the roof and then tied it down with the bits of rope that were still usable. I asked Sandy if she had anything else to use and she replied that there were some ripped nylons in the glove box. I used my pocket knife and was able to piece together enough of the strands to make a rope that would keep our tree secure. The rest of the trip was spent watching through the rear view mirror to make sure that the tree was still there.
We waited until it was rather late before we snuck the tree up to our third story apartment. We accidentally left a little ring of sap on the floor of the elevator. Once we had the tree in our apartment, I headed out to the hallway to clean up the loose needles that had fallen off along the way. When I was satisfied that the trail didn't lead to our apartment, I headed back to set up the tree.
I placed the tree in the stand that my parents had given us and straightened it out as best I could. My hands were covered with little clumps of sap. When I was satisfied with my work, I headed in the bathroom to wash off the sap. I heard a shriek, then the sound of something crashing and falling. I rushed into the living room to find my tree sprawled across the couch.
I ended up tying some fishing line to the top of the tree and anchoring that to the curtain rods. When I was satisfied, I sat back and admired my work. All the while, Sandy sat there with a big smile on her face. She took her fingers and tried to move my scowl into a smile. The look on her face was too much for me and we were soon laughing and joking about our first tree hunting experience.
Several days later, I told Sandy I had a special surprise for her. I asked her to dress warmly because we would be outside for part of the time. That evening, we drove down to the old historic part of town. For about 6 blocks, on one side of the street, there were a number of restaurants and old historic buildings. On the other side of the road is a park that runs along the banks of a river. It is a beautiful area that is filled with history and nostalgia.
I could tell by the look on her face that she was excited by my choice of activities for the evening. I parked the car and we walked over to one of the restaurants. It was brightly decorated for the holidays and I loved how the lights highlighted the old stone work on the front of the building. The street was lined with old fashioned street lights and snow hung heavily on the awnings and trees.
It was a step back in time, as we entered the old building, with its beautiful wood paneled walls and pressed tin ceiling. We were escorted to our table by the window, where we could look out on the street and park beyond. It was such a comfortable and inviting place to be. We ordered some drinks and then sat there for a long time, just holding hands and slowing down time, as we tried to absorb each other and our surroundings. Our tranquility was interrupted by the waiter, as he asked if we were ready to order.
I ordered a salad and steak with morels. Sandy ordered the sea bass. We both ordered French onion soup. It was one of our customs, to order this soup, if we found that it was offered on the menu. When the waiter left, Sandy told me what a wonderful time she was having. We looked out as a car passed by. There was very little traffic on this street, which only added to the inviting atmosphere.
Our food was delicious. We ate slowly, savoring every bite. We tasted each others dish and commented on the various flavors. We gazed into each others eyes, tying to look into the inner depths of our partner. What I saw were the most beautiful eyes that were ever created. I marveled that they were looking at me. Briefly, we held hands again and then resumed eating our food.