Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 19

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

The next few weekends were spent driving around looking at houses. Dawn was also busy working on the wedding plans. I would occasionally accompany her on an errand.

One day, she mentioned that she wanted to visit with a lady who baked wedding cakes in her home. We had decided that we wanted to do as much of the wedding using friends and family as we could. We had also decided on using small business contacts. We didn't want our ceremony to be like my cousin's wedding; two stretch limousines, a catered meal, and a large banquet hall. After all that expense, they separated after two years.

I learned that the lady lived along the Mississippi river. I thought it might be fun to tag along. I had visited the area once before and I knew it to be full of wildlife and scenic areas.

As we descended from the river bluffs, I could see that we were in for an exciting visit. A beautiful golf course lay on one side of the river and a wooded island lay across the water. A freight train passed over us on a trestle bridge. I could see a causeway that led out to the island. At the end of the causeway was a one vehicle at-a-time bridge.

It was very evident that the water stretching out in front of us was not the main section of the river. It appeared to be a portion of the river that diverted around the island. Near the bridge was a small park which contained a picnic table. We stopped for a moment to enjoy the scenery. I enjoyed listening to the lapping of the waves and the fresh moist smell that was coming off the water.

Dawn spotted an eagle in a dead tree across the road. He sat there so majestically. His pure white head, so elegant, contrasted starkly with the blue of the sky. I looked down toward the water and spotted some merganser ducks. I briefly wondered if any of them might be on the eagle's menu.

As we drove up a slight incline, I instantly fell in love with the island. I spotted ravines, creeks, and giant boulders along our path. I would later learn that this island had been a favorite area of the Native Americans.

It was easy to see why this section of the country had been so popular with the early native people. The island contained grasslands, bays, and flowing water. Wildlife was abundant. I even spotted several turkeys along the road. Later, I learned that the island was known for having one of the largest Native American burial grounds in the region.

Eventually we came out of the trees and began to travel through a field of wild flowers, grasses, and some crops. In the middle of one of the fields, I spotted what looked like grave stones. My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to attempt to find out what secrets might be contained in that cemetery.

It took some exploration, but I finally located a narrow trail that led out to the grave sites. Some of the stones were so old that the inscriptions were barely visible. Many of the markers dated back to the mid 1800s. I would discover later that the area had been the site of one of the first settlements.

It seemed so peaceful as we sat on of one of the benches that had been provided. The sky was a light shade of blue. It contained small puffs of clouds that looked like whipped cream as it melted in a cup of hot cocoa.

I felt a gentle breeze blowing across my face. It brought to me the smells and feel of the prairie. Birds sang brightly in the trees as we sat in the shade of an old oak tree.

There was something magical about the area. I felt at peace with the universe. I felt content. I had experienced that feeling on several other occasions. It is not often that a person can clear their mind and enjoy that incredible feeling of satisfaction that I felt as I sat on that bench. It was amazing to think that I would only need to travel about ten minutes to be back in an industrial setting.

Finally, Dawn said that we had to go. She reminded me that she had told the cake lady that we would stop by in the early afternoon. I reluctantly arose and bid farewell to my newly discovered place of peace and rest. I closed my eyes and tried to savor the experience for one last time.

Dawn was already in her seat when I arrived at the car. The road, on which we were traveling, made a big loop around the island. We headed down the road, checking the addresses. I spotted several houses for sale and made a mental note of their location.

We located the cake lady's house and I pulled into the driveway. We exchanged greetings and I had a brief opportunity to say that I desired a three tiered cake. Soon the ladies became absorbed in their conversation and I was left to myself. I became bored and walked out into the yard to enjoy the fresh air. As I walked through the door, I heard them discussing the filling, frosting, and decorations for the cake.

I walked around the yard enjoying the shrubbery and the trees. The snow had melted and some new growth was beginning to emerge. The cake lady evidently put the bulk of her time into her cakes because the yard gave off that feeling of natural development. I found it to be interesting; in its own way.

After what seemed like a long time, Dawn finally emerged from the house. We said our goodbyes and then headed down the road. I could sense an air of excitement in her voice. I guess I will never fully understand women. They sometimes get so excited about the oddest things. It was evident that she had enjoyed a good visit.

We continued around the loop, enjoying the scenery around us. I spotted several deer in one of the fields. Dawn spotted a red tailed hawk. I had fully intended to go back to visit the houses we had seen earlier, and then we drove over a bridge. Underneath it ran a narrow creek,

That is when I saw it. A driveway wound through a bare canopy of trees. Far back in the woods, I spotted a rustic looking home. The house would not have been visible if the trees had been full of leaves. The creek ran along the side of the house and disappeared around the back. A narrow walking path and bridge passed over the creek.

The best thing of all; It was for sale! I turned into the driveway without asking Dawn. I'm sure she was still dreaming about the wonderful cake. I parked the car and headed for the house. I had completely forgotten about Dawn, who was slowly opening her car door.

When I knocked on the front door, I was met by an elderly woman. She was holding a gnarly wooden cane. She informed me that her husband had died and she was no longer able to care for the house and property. I learned that her kids were all too busy with their lives and had arranged for her to go into an assisted living facility. She told me that she hated to leave her home and all the memories. She acknowledged that she was scheduled to move to the facility at the end of the month.

I asked for permission to look around the property and she informed me that it would be just fine. Her faded blue eyes lit up as she spotted Dawn. Soon they were chatting away as I headed toward the rear of the house. The kind lady informed me that she would call the realtor to see if she might be able to stop by.

As I rounded the corner of the house, I stopped in my tracks. The back yard contained a decent sized flat area in which our future kids could play. It was the area behind that, which caught my attention. I noticed a slight rise, behind which was a gradual hill that led down to one of the most beautiful bays that I had ever seen. I stood there in amazement, as I gazed upon an incredible view.

I had stumbled onto the house of my dreams. I could not have come up with a better layout if I had drawn it out on paper. The house needed a great deal of work, but the property was perfect. My mind started going in a dozen different directions as a variety of possibilities flooded my brain.

Suddenly, I was awakened from my trance as Dawn gently touched my shoulder. She thought the yard was wonderful, but she evidently did not see it with the same eyes that I viewed it through. She said that the realtor was on her way. She suggested that we go out to the front of the house to meet her.

As we rounded the corner of the house, I was pleased to see that the realtor was driving an older model car. This suggested that she was not out to impress us. I made the assumption that she was just trying to make a decent living. An attractive but casually dressed woman stepped out of the car.

After introductions, the realtor asked us to follow her for a tour of the house. It was the typical home of an elderly couple. It would evidently need some work, but I could tell by the look on Dawn's face that she was not impressed. In my mind, I was already seeing the house as it would look several years down the road. As we walked along, I took mental notes of changes I would make. I planned to store them in my mind for later use.

The realtor informed us that one other couple had inquired about the house. She said that they were in the process of obtaining financing. I learned that the purchase price was reasonable and within our range. The realtor told me that she would let me know if there were any changes in the plans of the other couple.

I tried desperately not to show my eagerness. I think I failed as I spotted a twinkle in her eye. I think she knew that I was smitten with the property. I imagined that she knew that she would be able to control the price. I looked back to see her chatting with the owner, as we strolled back to our car.

As we drove away, I asked Dawn what she thought. She said it was nice, but that she thought we should continue looking. Her answer brought me down a notch from the euphoria I had been experiencing. How could she not see the potential that I saw in that property? It was so difficult for me to see it through the eyes of a woman. I imagined that she was seeing it as an old house that was desperately in need of repairs.

I, on the other hand, saw it as a piece of land with untold possibilities. I saw a place to dock my boat and a shoreline for launching my canoe. I saw walkways, swing ropes, tree houses, and so much more. I saw evenings spent looking out over the river, campfires, and sing-a-longs on the river banks. It had been a long time since I had been this excited about anything. I realized that I had some work to do if I was to have any hope of convincing Dawn. It was so hard for me to fathom that she did not share the same vision with me.

That week at work, I was like a kid who had been promised a new bike. I found myself continually drawing sketches and making plans. I discussed the property with my business partner. He told me that I should calm down. He reminded me that there was still another buyer, probably just as excited, who was attempting to purchase the property.

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