Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 11

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

As I hurried in the direction of the screams, a scenario formed in my mind. As I approached the clearing, I would see a great beast preparing to lunge at my beloved. Without hesitation, I would contract my leg muscles, and then leap mightily through the air. While in flight, I would unsheathe my great knife. As I neared the creature, my one hand would grab it by the fur on the back of its neck. With my other hand, I would reach around to find the pulsating arteries in the neck. With one powerful swipe of my blade, I would dispatch the animal. I would then rush to Dawn and hold her tightly in my powerful arms.

Reality returned as I broke through the trees. Before me was Dawn, shaken, but uninjured. I scanned the perimeter, and seeing no immediate danger, I rushed to her and actually did hold her in my arms. I could feel her body trembling, as she placed her head against my shoulder. I continued to look around for anything that would have aroused that much fear.

Through quivering lips, she muttered the word, "Wolf." Then she said, "He was going to eat me." I almost burst out into laughter. Fortunately for me, Dawn didn't see the little smile that had formed on my face. It quickly disappeared. I told her that she was safe with me. To emphasize that point, I flexed my arms muscles, which I knew she could feel against her shirt. Slowly, she began to regain her composure.

Then I spotted it. It was moving stealthily through the shadows. It was huge. I had never seen a wolf in the wild before. All I caught was a brief glimpse, but I could see why it caused such a reaction in Dawn. I squeezed her a little tighter and suggested we return to our sleeping area.

Wolves, from what I understand, do not usually attack man. It might be a different story if you were in a weakened state or injured. I am sure the animal was just curious as to who had invaded his territory. When we arrived back by our blanket, I told Dawn to lie down and get some sleep. I didn't ask her why she had ventured back into the woods. I figured she had gone there to answer the call of nature. I told her that I would stoke up the fire and keep watch through the remainder of the night.

As I sat by the fire, I noticed that she was watching me. I wondered what was going through her head. In my imagination, I imagined she saw a mighty warrior, rugged and brave, ready to take on any danger. In reality, she probably saw a normal man, but one who would sacrifice himself for her safety. Whatever the case, she must have felt safe, because she gradually drifted off to sleep.

As Dawn slept, I had time to contemplate life. There I was, sitting on a big rock, under the awesome expanse of the beautiful night sky. I thought about Sandy. What would she think of my falling in love with another woman? I knew, deep down, that she would be happy for me. I also knew that I would never forget the memories that were made with Sandy.

A long time ago, I had started the practice of journaling. Most of those special times, with Sandy, were written down in my journal. At any time, I could go to my journal and refresh those old memories. They were so precious to me. I did not ever want to forget those treasured experiences.

How would the scenario be different, if I had been the one who had died? Would I have wanted Sandy to love another? That is something that I really had to struggle with. Of course, I would want her to be happy. But would I want her to make love to another man? The selfish part of me wanted to be loved and remembered. If I were dying of a slow developing disease, I knew I would think of Sandy eventually loving another man. I could see all kinds of ugly scenarios rushing through my mind. I guess it was a weak part of my character. I knew it was selfish, but the thought still bothered me.

I had heard of too many women who had lost their husbands, only to remarry and find happiness. What about their first husband? Did they make an attempt to remember and cherish those memories? Which husband does the woman get buried with? I didn't know if I would ever be mature enough to deal with that question. I would think that everyone hopes that they are remembered fondly by someone, after they pass from this life.

Gradually, my thoughts turned back to my present situation. For some time, I had felt like something was watching me. I turned and saw an amazing sight. On a rocky rise in the distance, I saw the outline of a large wolf. In the sky above, the clouds were being backlit by the moon. Because of that unusual situation, the clouds were glowing around the edges.

The scene was even more prominent because of the blackness of the starry sky. It all worked together to form an incredible display. It was a view worthy of a painting. As was my habit, I tried to take in every aspect of my setting, for recollection at a later time. I resolved to tell Dawn about the wolf sighting, during the day, when the sun was full and bright.

Despite my best efforts, I must have dosed off. I was awakened by Dawn's gentle touch on my shoulder. As my eyes focused, I noticed that the fire had turned to coals. Dawn greeted me by saying, "Sleeping on your watch, I see. That dereliction of duty deserves to be punished." With that said, she bent her head down, and began to flog my face with her beautiful hair.

The softness, the wonderful smell, and the fullness of her tresses proved to be too much for me to bear. As she giggled, I pulled her onto my lap and proceeded to kiss her neck, until she cried out in sweet delight. I held her close to my chest. I could feel the beating of her heart. She kissed me and thanked me for watching over her. We sat together, enjoying the moment.

With a little effort, I was able to stir up the coals and get a cooking fire started. I heated up some water and made some coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. Dawn had walked around the area and collected a few of the blueberries that had not been eaten by the animals. The berries were added to the oatmeal, and we cherished each spoonful.

As we ate, we studied our surroundings from a new perspective. The sun was behind us; therefore the cliffs across from us were being displayed in the brightness of the morning sun. The light picked up the many variations of the colors on the huge wall. It looked to us like a huge painted canvas. The greens of the pines, on the cliff, were vivid in contrast to the emerging blueness of the morning sky. The water below had not yet been touched by the sun, but we could see wisps of vapors rising from the surface.

It was humbling to think that this scenario would play out day after day, but we would only see it maybe several times during our life. I thought of how we would soon be back in the city, going on about our lives, but the same scenery would continue to unfold, whether anyone was there to enjoy it or not. In a way, it was comforting to think that when I arrived back home, I could close my eyes and envision the scenes that would continue to unfold, in the wilderness.

It didn't take us long to clean up the area and start our walk down the trail. We strained our eyes in an effort to spot more mushrooms, but there were none to be found. We found our canoe, just as we left it. We carefully turned it over and placed it in the water.

We said goodbye to our special place, and proceeded to canoe over to the narrowing in the cliffs. I had mentioned to Dawn that I would like to explore that area, since we were already in the vicinity. The route took us through a tree lined channel, which eventually emptied out into a vast open area.

As we paddled, we entered a marshy swampland. Cattails and rushes were growing in abundance. The stream that we were following double backed, over and over, as it wound its way through the marsh. Delicate insect eating Pitcher plants and wild cranberries were scattered along the banks.

I felt a furry wing, then a sting on the back of my neck. I saw Dawn swat at something that was attacking her. We had entered mosquito country. Suddenly, there were more of the pesky little demons. Dawn looked imploringly at me. I reached in my pack and located my mosquito net. Without a thought, I gave it to Dawn. I suggested that she cover up her beautiful shoulders with a light jacket.

I proceeded to dig out the insect repellent and applied it to my exposed skin. We were soon swarmed by the stinging insects. Up to this point, we had been very lucky in avoiding these little monsters. The spray helped, but they still found areas to feed on.

We picked up our paddling rate as we continued along. I had wanted to travel slowly and enjoy the scenery. It was pretty evident that speed was a much better choice. It turned into a race to get through the forsaken wetland.

I remembered watching a documentary about the artic tundra. The scenes portrayed an area of incredible beauty. There was one major problem. The mosquitoes were so thick that they could literally drive a person crazy. I will never forget the picture of a caribou with a swarm of mosquitoes around his head. The irritating little insects were even crawling in and out of the animal's nostrils.

There were many interesting plants along the way, which I would have liked to have stopped at and studied. The insects ruined that part of our trip. We did come around a bend and surprise a huge turtle that was sunning himself on a rock. We heard a big splash as he climbed off the rock and disappeared into the depths.

As we neared the end of the marsh, and began heading back into a rocky walled canyon, the number of insects began to decrease. There were a few that lingered on the sides of the canoe, but those were quickly dispatched. Soon we were able to remove some of our clothing and netting. It felt wonderful to once again experience the fresh air blowing across our skin.

After paddling for a half hour, I thought I heard the sound of rushing water. It was not long after that, when we spotted some whitewater up ahead. I steered the canoe over toward the bank. I wanted to get to some high ground, from which I could study the waterway ahead. From what I could see, it looked like it would be passable. Most of the rocks appeared to be deep enough under the surface. I figured if I steered carefully, we might be able to make it safely through this rapid.

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