Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 10

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

The next morning, I awoke much later than I normally would. However, I did awake feeling refreshed and with much less pain. My first thought was of the incident bathing. It brought a big smile to my face.

Sometime during the night, Dawn had snuggled up to me and laid her head upon my shoulder. I carefully propped a pillow under her head, so as not to disturb her. I didn't want to wake the sleeping beauty. I stared at her for a very long time. Even her freckles were perfectly placed.

Why do women always tell men not to look at them in the morning? In my experience, a woman will always turn away and try to hide her face. I guess they don't understand or see with the eyes through which men see. What I saw was a beautiful, peaceful, sleeping goddess. A goddess that I knew would chastise me for looking at her, if she should suddenly awaken.

I carefully crawled out of the tent and took a deep breath of the refreshing morning air. There were no clouds to be seen. The sky was bluer than usual. The smells of the woods were sweeter than before. The sounds of the birds and the lapping of the waves were pleasant to my ears. I went about my normal duties, checking our gear and starting a fire.

I hurled a stale piece of bread out onto the water. Out of nowhere, two seagulls descended and proceeded to fight over the bread. I spotted some small minnows flipping across the top of the water. My friend, the frog, jumped from a rock, into the clear blue water.

Nature was continuing in its process of survival and renewal. Fallen trees were in various stages of decay. New trees were sprouting from cracks in the rocks. If one creature should die, many more would benefit from its passing. In the same vein, the living creatures around me added to the beauty and wonder of the environment that they occupied.

So absorbed was I, in the interactions of my surroundings, that I didn't notice Dawn's approach. Suddenly, I felt the softest lips press against the back of my neck. I felt a little tingle run down my spine. My father had always told me that I would know when the right woman came into my life. He said that there would be magic. He told me that I would feel something special. I was beginning to believe that my father was right.

I turned around and embraced Dawn. I kissed her gently on the lips. A Canada jay scolded us raucously from a nearby tree. That jay would eventually become an annoyance, later in the day. In that instance, we just laughed.

I placed a pot of water on the fire and checked to see what we had left for food supplies. My food pack was becoming much lighter, as we neared the end of our trip. I found a package of pancake mix. That seemed to be a fitting breakfast for this perfect morning. I set about whipping up the batter and proceeded to flip some incredible looking flapjacks.

We discussed our plans for the day. I said that I would like to get a little reading done. Dawn said that she had intended on doing some sketches, but had not found time to begin. We decided to go about working on our separate activities for the better part of the morning. We agreed to get together and make additional plans after lunch.

When lunch time rolled around, I retrieved some sausage and cheese that I had submerged in the lake. I had placed it there to keep it cool. I dug out the trail mix, mixed up some powdered drink, and we were ready to eat. As we ate, our quiet setting was disturbed by the Canada jay. He was scolding us from a nearby tree.

When Dawn laid her plate, down by her side, the jay swooped down and grabbed part of her sandwich. She didn't even have a chance to react. Their ability to steal food had earned them the name 'whiskey jack'. I had run into these pesky birds before. You really needed to be on your toes, or they would easily snatch your food away.

I suggested to Dawn that we try to catch the bird. She looked at me with a questioning look. I walked down to the canoe and gathered up my fishing net and some line. I propped the edge of the net on a twig and tied one end of the line to the twig. I placed a piece of bread under the net and waited for the jay.

It wasn't long before the bird landed and began hopping toward the bread. When he was completely under the net, I tugged on the line. To my amazement, I actually caught the little critter. Dawn looked at me with unbelief written across her face. I walked over to the net and carefully manipulated the bird, until I could safely pin his feathers and free him from the net.

He proceeded to give me the scolding of a lifetime. He let me know exactly what he thought of the situation, even though he was the one who had walked into the trap. Dawn just stood there laughing at the two of us.

After the bird had given me a complete chewing out, I carefully let him go. He did not leave our camp, however. He flew to the nearest branch and continued to let me know how irritated he was by my actions.

Finally, Dawn and I had to walk down by the water, where there weren't any trees. We had to get away from the noisy bird. Dawn commented that she couldn't believe I had succeeded in catching it, with my crude trap. I smiled and told her that she wouldn't lack for food, as long as I was around.

We sat by the waters edge, with our feet dangling in the water. Little minnows came up to nibble on our toes. I didn't have a clue, as to what they were thinking, but we did laugh at how much it tickled. What amazing creatures we are, to be able to feel even the very slightest amount of pressure on our skin.

Dawn turned to me and said she had to ask me a question. She had a strange look on her face. She told me that I was unlike any other guy she had ever met. She said that I possessed qualities that she had not even been looking for. She looked into my eyes, and said, "You truly are a knight in shining armor."

I felt my face flush, upon hearing that statement. I didn't really think I was anything special. In fact, many people would say that I was old fashioned. Fortunately, I didn't really care what other people thought. I knew who I was, and that was all that mattered to me.

If there is one thing that I have learned in this life, it is this; Always be true to who you are. Don't expect the people in authority to be smarter or wiser than you. I have found the opposite to be true, in most cases. I have watched my ideas be blown away by higher ups, only to find out that I was right, a few years down the road.

It is only when you feel secure in your own identity, that you will find true contentment. When you stick to what you believe, and are not swayed by others; that is when you will realize your greatest potential. None of the great explorers or inventors was swayed by the negativity of those around them.

It is the people who took a chance, lived life to the fullest, who gave us the world that we live in today. Unfortunately, many died penniless, or obscure, because they were not accepted by the people in the "know". But, fortunately for us, they were true to their mission.

Dawn asked me why I didn't turn around, and look, when she was standing naked on the rock. She said, "I don't know of any man that would not have taken a peek". She questioned whether I found her attractive.

The blood rushed to my face, again. I told her that I found her to be the most beautiful woman in the world. I told her that every fiber in my body was telling me to take a peek.

But she had asked me to turn around and not look. There was no way that I was going to betray her trust. To do that, would have forced me to go against what I believed. In my eyes, I would have been less of a man for succumbing to the temptation,

I looked at her, sheepishly, and saw a tear form in the corner of her eye. A ray from the sun caught it and caused it to glisten like a tiny rainbow. She told me, in a quivering voice, that she had been waiting for me, her whole life. She said she had always longed for a man that she could trust completely. She said that, prior to this trip; she didn't believe that kind of man existed.

I told her that she shouldn't put me on any pedestal. I said there were many times when I failed to do what I knew I should do. I told her that, after all, I was still a man. But I did tell her that she could count on me to always try to do what I felt was right. If I did fail, I said I would always listen and try to correct my actions. With a tear running down her cheek, she kissed me. I soared like an eagle.

Things were beginning to get a little too serious, so I suggested we take a little trip over to a nearby lake. Dawn thought it would be a good idea, so we gathered up some gear and climbed into the canoe. Soon we were gliding across the water.

We had been canoeing enough together, that we were beginning to get a good rhythm going. It really is a wonderful thing when two people can work together in harmony. As we paddled, I closed my eyes and tried to absorb the feeling of the world around me. I knew that no matter how hard I tried, this time would soon be lost, and all I would have would be the memories.

I felt the warm sun against my face. I could feel the coolness of the breeze. I heard the rippling of the water and the wind rushing through the trees. I heard the rat-tat-tat of a woodpecker, looking for some insects. I heard the dipping of Dawn's paddle as she pulled us toward the portage. I tried to lock those experiences into the recesses of my memory.

We found the landing to be sandy and the portage to be long. We had to climb a considerable amount of elevation, up to a ridge, before descending back down toward the lake. I spotted the sapphire blue water of the lake, shining through the trees. The lake we were heading to reportedly contained lake trout. I mentioned to Dawn that I had every intention of catching some for dinner.

Dawn had reached the new lake first. She scanned the beautiful landscape with a big smile on her face. A barren island of smooth boulders lay a few hundred feet from shore. Two hundred foot sheer cliffs rose on either side. Off in the distance, the lake narrowed down and disappeared around a bend. We laid the canoe on the water and climbed in. With great expectation, we began to explore

The sides of the cliff were mostly black, with splashes of color from wild flowers, moss, and other vegetation. Suddenly Dawn screamed. I followed her gaze and spotted a huge wolf spider, scurrying across the wall. We quickly paddled away, despite that fact that the spider is relatively harmless.

We paddled around a corner and the sky overhead suddenly grew dark. A huge creature flew over us, probably no more than ten feet above our canoe. It had to have a wing span of at least six feet. It turned out to be the largest bald eagle I had ever seen. We must have startled it, as it rested on a nearby ledge. Dawn told me, over and over, that she couldn't believe how big the eagle was.

I told Dawn, that I believed that there were some ancient pictographs, located somewhere along the granite walls. We paddled along, staying close to the sheer cliffs. I was looking for anything that might resemble a small figure. I told Dawn, that from what I could remember, the figures were red in color.

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