Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 9

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

As I lay there, in the glow of the flashlight, I studied her face. I looked at her eyes. They glistened with the moisture from her tears. I looked at her eyebrows. I looked at her cheeks. I looked at her nose, her chin, and her hair. If God had ever personally molded a face, it must have been Dawn's. I looked at her lips.

Dawn bent her head down as her lips moved closer to mine. Before they ever touched, I could feel them. Her warm breath, her moist lips, and her aura put all my senses on alert and informed me that something wonderful was about to happen. Her lips touched mine; so incredibly soft, so pleasantly moist, and so wonderfully full of life.

I closed my eyes and savored the kiss as every cell in my lips went to the highest state of arousal. This was the second time I had opened my eyes to see an angel. The only difference this time was that I really knew it was an angel. The woman that I had feared lost forever, was alive ... and very much alive.

We held our kiss for a very long time. How long? I do not know. All I know is that energy, raw body energy, was transferred between our lips. Don't ask me how, but some of the pain in my head had suddenly melted away.

When Dawn finally raised her head, we just stared at each other. We were both so thankful for another chance. We had been given more time for love, for hope, and for joy. No words needed to be spoken. I knew. She knew. Nothing further needed to be said. Using the highest form of interaction, we communicated through looks, caresses, and hugs.

As I began to analyze my situation, I found that something soft was propped under my head. Dawn was on her knees, bending over me, with her hands caressing my face. I felt no desire to move. I was content. My view was perfect. Life had just become so much sweeter.

Slowly, Dawn began to help me into a sitting position. I noticed the branch that must have struck my head. I felt a little dizzy at first, but that feeling began to subside. I took Dawn's hands, so tiny and frail in my rough mitts. I could feel the blood pulsing through her finger tips. I brought her fingers to my lips and kissed them. They were the fingers of the woman that I loved.

Right there I made a vow. I vowed that I would cherish the time I was given. I would try my best to make the day brighter for everyone I came in contact with. I would stop and enjoy a sunset. I would stop and smell a lilac bush. Most of all, I would do everything humanly possible to make sure that Dawn and I would remain together.

I asked Dawn how she had escaped the falling tree. She replied that she had felt the urge to use the latrine. While she was back in the woods, the wind gusts began to increase. It had been windy previously, but these winds were so strong that she had to find shelter behind a huge glacial boulder. She told me she heard a loud crashing noise. She thought it sounded like a huge tree falling.

Fearing that it might have fallen on my tent, she carefully made her way through the fallen branches and trees. She tripped once, and stopped to make sure she was not injured. When she finally came in view of the campsite, she saw that a tree had fallen on her tent. She noticed the outline of what she presumed to be me, kneeling by the tree.

Just as she was about to yell out, she saw a branch fly through the air. She saw the branch strike me on the head. She hurried over to where I lay and gently rolled me over and checked my pulse. As she knelt there, she prayed for my safety. She prayed that I would be free from serious injury when I awoke from my unconscious state.

When I had recovered enough to be able to stand, we moved over to my tent where we lay for the rest of the night. Dawn kept me awake for most of the time. She wanted to ensure that there was no serious damage to my head. I guess she didn't realize just how thick my head really was. I didn't mind the attention, however, because I was in the hands of an amazing woman.

When the sun's rays began to filter through the trees, I took stock of our situation. The tree that had fallen on Dawn's tent was huge. There was no possible way that we would be able to move it. I had only brought along a hatchet and small handsaw. I would need an axe if I had any hope of cutting through that tree.

For some reason, we had never transferred Dawn's backpack to her tent. The only items that she had really lost were her tent, several pieces of clothing, and her sleeping bag. They were buried under the tree and would have to stay there until the Forest Service was able to come in and clean up the site.

We proceeded to start the task of cleaning up what we could. Many trees had fallen down during the storm. The only huge one to fall was the one that had struck Dawn's tent. The other trees were smaller and could be moved or sawn through. For the time being, we just sorted through the smaller branches and debris. My head was still somewhat sore. I felt it best to work slowly and to take frequent breaks.

For the remainder of the morning, we mainly rested. Dawn made some eggs with the dried mixture that I had brought along. We sat by the water's edge, watching the waves as they lapped against the shore. It was so refreshing to be able to just sit and enjoy the renewed life we had been given. A frog jumped into the water. We watched as its legs drew in and then stretched out, sending it along to its destination. We were amazed at how gracefully and purposely it moved through the water.

I shared a thought that had occurred to me, with Dawn. I suggested that we needed to be more like a frog. If we just drew our legs in and sat on a couch, or just drew into ourselves, we would never experience the wonderful opportunities that life has to offer. We might be safe and secure, but we would be missing out on the amazing world around us. It is when we stretch our legs to the fullest; that we will find new and thrilling places that we never even knew existed.

My analogy was somewhat ruined when I saw a swirl in the area to which the frog had swum. I strained my eyes and caught a glimpse of a huge bass swimming away. One result of stretching our legs could result in great pain or even possible tragedy, like the experience we had just gone through. If I had stayed safely at home, however, I would not be enjoying the company of the beautiful woman sitting beside me.

I told Dawn about the time I had almost drowned while canoeing a rapid. I was traveling with some friends and one of them suggested that we shoot a stretch of whitewater. There was a portage around this section of the river, so we proceeded to carry our supplies to the opposite end. When it came time to portage the canoe, my friend again insisted that we shoot the rapid. My gut feeling was that this rapid was too difficult to try to navigate. He continually prodded me until I finally relented.

As I planned our route, I noticed that there was a chute just to the right of a six foot boulder. We would need to travel through that narrows if we were to safely make it through the rapid. On every other route, we would encounter rocks and other hazards.

I shared my plan with my friend and we pushed off from shore. We began paddling and soon felt the pull of the current. I tried with all my strength, but the current was too strong. It was pulling us straight toward the rock. I yelled to my friend and tried with all my might. My muscles strained with every ounce of power I could muster.

We could not change the course of the canoe. We struck the rock so hard that it catapulted my friend into the air and over the rock. Before I could react, the canoe had flipped over and was upside down, filling with water. When we had hit the rock, I slid forward and became trapped under the brace of the canoe. My life jacket straps were caught on the brace and I was trapped. The canoe continued to fill with water.

I began to feel panic. My life literally passed before my eyes. I realized that I was probably going to die at the young age of nineteen. The thought occurred to me that this was how death happened, one minute breathing, the next minute fighting for a few more minutes of life.

Something from the depths of my being kicked in. It told me to calm down and not panic. It told me to take the time to take stock of my situation and attempt to find a solution. I took a breath and began to fumble with my strap. I found I was able to push my chest down and under the brace. My head bobbed to the surface. The current carried me around the boulder and I bounced along, over some rocks, until I arrived in calmer water.

I swam over to the shallows and sat there, replaying the experience that I had just lived through. I really thought I was going to die. Meanwhile, my friends had jumped into the water and retrieved the paddles and the canoe. My companion was sitting on shore, bruised, but in relatively good shape.

The front of our canoe was flattened. I later did some research on the force that it would take to do that kind of damage. The literature stated that these canoes were build to resist thousands of pounds of pressure. We did shoot some other rapids that day, but only after I had carefully analyzed them and was sure that we could make it through safely.

Dawn looked at me and said she was so glad that I had lived through that experience. She commented on what might have happened if she had never met me. Then she said something that thrilled me to the core. She stated that there was no way that she would ever let me go. She told me that she would pursue me no matter how hard I would try to resist her.

I simply said, "OK".

We continued to clean up our campsite from the debris that had fallen during the night. I would take frequent breaks so that I would not over extend myself. The day turned out to be a beautiful one; warm and sunny. As lunch time neared, I could not get that big bass out of my mind. I began to explore the area around our camp, turning over rocks as I looked for worms.

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