Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 12

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

I awoke a little sore. I must have injured something during the spill in the rapids. I crawled out of the tent, and like a cat, I did some stretching. It had rained during the night. Everything that had been left out, exposed to the elements, was wet. I let Dawn continue to sleep. I proceeded to collect some dry wood that had been placed under the canoe.

The sky was still overcast, resulting in a less than vibrant display of colors from the vegetation and habitat around me. One special sense was being stimulated, my sense of smell. The woods had that damp and fresh smell that comes after a rainfall. It is that smell that seems to announce that everything has been cleansed and new life has been given a chance to spring forth.

I soon had a fire crackling and blazing in the ring. Lately, I had been adding fewer scoops of coffee to my morning drink. This was due to the fact that I had an additional person in my camp. I had been traveling now for about a week and a half, and my supplies and time were beginning to run out. It would be necessary to start thinking about our return to civilization. I was not looking forward to that prospect at all.

When God punished Adam and Eve in the garden, I am convinced that the punishment was time. No longer were they able to do things with little concern for a schedule. No longer would they live forever. They had to start to work to survive. Their days were numbered. Their bodies would begin to wear down, as they aged. At the end of their number of days, they would die.

Time seems to go so very fast. I had so much looked forward to the trip. To date, it had fulfilled my every expectation. It had surpassed my most expectant dream. I knew that the next few days would go by incredibly fast. I also knew that I would soon be back at work and involved in my daily routine.

I would go to work for five or six days, looking forward to my weekend off. That would go quickly and I would be back at work. Who ever thought up this system? I know that some of the workplaces are testing a four day workweek. That sounds a whole lot better to me. I tried to clear those thoughts out of my head. Dawn was moving and soon I would see her lovely face. And best of all, that beautiful face was going to be heading home with me.

Coffee and oatmeal were ready when Dawn awoke. I had located a small box of raisins, which were added to the cereal. We ate in silence, enjoying our surroundings. We both realized that time was running short. In the back of our minds, we both wondered what would happen and whether our relationship would change when we returned home.

After breakfast, I suggested that we go out and do some exploration. I told Dawn I had spotted a little stream running into the lake, and suggested it might be worthy of a closer look. We were soon paddling along and enjoying the fresh morning air. When we were a good distance from shore, we dipped our water bottles down into the water, as far as we could reach, and then placed the caps back on them. That is the suggested way of collecting water and it is considered to be the safest.

As we paddled, I enjoyed the sound of the lapping of the water as it came in contact with our canoe. It is such a gentle and pleasurable sound. Dawn was wearing a light shirt, which she had tied in front. This exposed her lower back. She was also wearing a pair of shorts and her hiking boots. Her beautiful hair was occasionally tousled about by the slight breeze. The sky was blue, with small puffs of clouds. I found my view to be most satisfying.

We headed over to the stream and watched as it trickled into the lake. We spotted minnows and crawfish, darting about. We beached the canoe and climbed out to explore. We found a small wildlife trail, which we followed back into the woods. There we found an area which was similar to what one might expect to find in a rain forest. Water was coming from all directions. Small streams meandered among hundreds of little hammocks of grass. Water ran out of cracks in the rock walls that stood along the edges of our little paradise.

Trees trunks that had fallen were being quickly turned back into the earth. Their reddish orange wood was covered with moss and fungi. Bright orange shelf fungi grew out of one downed tree. A clump of white mushrooms grew out of another. Various shades of green moss were arrayed throughout the area. Sunlight streamed through the trees, highlighting the area with scatterings of intense colors.

We found a nice rock to sit on. It was near a small waterfall that was cascading out of an opening in the rock wall. The wall was covered with plants and moss taking full advantage of the abundant moisture. Delicate little bluebells displayed their wondrous beauty. Not too far away, a showy lady slipper was nearing the end of its bloom. Ferns of many colors and textures were growing all around us.

Dawn commented on the beauty of our surroundings. The only sounds were those of the wind and the trickling of the water. Occasionally, we heard the call or fluttering of a bird. We sat for a long time, just enjoying world around us. A small fawn came out from the protection of the trees to drink. The spotted light brown coat added a new shade of color to the scenery. I heard a rat-tat-tat and looked for the bird that was creating the disturbance. After some effort, I was able to spot a three toed yellow headed woodpecker. It was busy hopping about on one of the dead trees. I quickly pointed it out to Dawn.

Our little foray into the woods left us in a very restful and peaceful mood. Before we left, I pulled Dawn to me and kissed her softly on the lips. A beam of sunshine showered us with light. I imagine that if someone would have been there with a camera, they might have produced a picture worthy of being on the front of a romantic card. We kissed slowly, filling our senses with the presence of each other.

The aromas we experienced were mixed with those of the wet land around us. The incredible scenery only added to the beauty that I saw as I looked at Dawn's hair and face. The warmth of her body contrasted to the wet coolness all around us. I was at peace.

We begrudgingly made our way back to the canoe. Time! If there were no restraints of time, I believe I could have sat there for a whole day. The birds, animals, frogs, and toads would have been enough activity to keep me pleasantly occupied. Soon enough my mind would be occupied with problem solving in the busy world of everyday life. I would be, once again, overwhelmed by the thoughts and challenges of the tasks that would be set before me.

When we arrived at the canoe, I stepped in and sat down. I studied Dawn as she pushed us off from shore. I watched as her leg muscles performed their tasks. I noticed her delicate curves as she turned to sit. I loved the way she gave her hair a little flip. Is there any wonder why a man will deny his most beloved of activities for the joy of a woman? I was so fortunate in that I could enjoy an activity I loved, and do it with an amazing member of the opposite sex.

We slowly made our way back to camp. I trolled, as Dawn paddled, and was able to catch several fish for lunch. After lunch, Dawn worked on some sketches, and I went back to my book. Late in the afternoon, we decided to go back out to see if we could catch something for our evening meal. We spotted an area where we noticed that some small fish were topping the water.

I started casting my lure in various directions. Suddenly, I stopped and stared. There, suspended in the water next to our canoe, was a huge fish. It had to be four feet long. Dawn had noticed it also. I couldn't tell whether it was a Muskie or a Northern Pike.

I started to move my lure in figure eights, right in front of the fish. It just sat there, making no movement. Slowly, it sank out of sight. Remembering other stories I had heard, I continued to move my lure through the water. Suddenly, there was a massive tug on my line. The fish had taken my bait. My drag started singing as the line speed from my spool. I looked into the water and noticed that the mighty fish was actually pulling the canoe against the waves.

My biggest concern was that the fish would get to the end of my spool and the line would then snap. After the initial run, the fish paused, and I was able to tighten my drag. Then the fish was off again. The fish turned and I furiously began to reel the line back in. The monster dove under the boat, and I quickly maneuvered my rod around the canoe, almost getting the line caught on the tip of the canoe. Run after run, the mighty fish made. Dawn's face exhibited a look of wonder and apprehension.

I worried that the massive beast might dive right under the canoe and I would not be able to respond quick enough. That had happened to me once when I was out with my dad. I had lost one of my favorite lures during that battle. We had enjoyed the retelling of that story around many campfires. The fish, in that story, had eventually grown to be six feet long.

Finally the fish began to tire. Occasionally we would spot the fins as it surfaced. It was indeed a huge fish. Dawn informed me that there was no way that a fish of that size was going to get into our canoe. I just smiled and gave her a little wink.

Gradually the fish began to pause in its runs, and I was able to slowly pull it toward our canoe. Dawn watched in amazement as the fish came up alongside our boat. Its golden scales looked majestic as they caught the sunlight. Its great belly swelled as it took breaths after its extensive and furious battle. I looked at my opponent with awe and respect.

I slowly reached into the water and grabbed onto the lure. The fish waited, too exhausted to move. With a quick flick of my wrist, the lure was dislodged and the fish was free. The Muskie continued to stay suspended, next to the boat, trying to regain its strength.

I was beginning to get concerned, when suddenly it gave a great swipe of its tail, and it was gone. Dawn's face was the recipient of a few splashes of water. She smiled and thanked me for letting the mighty fish go. It gave me great joy to think that it would once again be swimming and wandering thought the beautiful clear water of that amazing wilderness.

We paddled over toward a small cluster of reeds. I cast toward the vegetation and was rewarded as an explosion erupted at the surface of the water. When I had reeled in the fish, we headed back to camp. After another wonderful meal, we prepared to watch the setting sun. We noticed some clouds forming and wondered whether we would have some rain. As I made my rounds that night, I made sure everything was properly protected. I noticed that the food bag had become extremely light.

We crawled into the tent and Dawn laid her head on my shoulder. We talked about how simple and peaceful life had become. Dawn said she would like to stay in the wilderness forever. I echoed her thoughts. Our communication changed to indistinguishable mumbles, as we gradually drifted off to sleep.

I was startled awake by a huge lightning strike. It brightly lit up the entire tent. Dawn was already sitting up. The sky was lighting up all around us and the area was reverberating with the sounds of thunder.

Lightning is not meant to be taken lightly. The shallow ground under the tent was covered with the roots of many trees. Any tree that was struck was fully capable of conducting the electricity under our tent. The only chance we might have of surviving a strike would be if the current avoided passing through our heart.

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