Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 21

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

I watched as the waves lapped gently against the shore. It was the type of day that you knew you had to cherish. Days like that didn't come that often. The only sounds to be heard were the songs of birds singing joyously from the trees. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a fish jump. As it disappeared back into the water, a ring of ripples began to grow in size as they spread outward. The head of a turtle poked curiously out of the water, looked around, and then retreated back to the place from whence it came.

I noticed the dark shadow of a large bird as it flew overhead. I turned my head to get a better look and saw that it was a great blue heron. The bird made a large half circle and then landed on the beach a short distance away from where I was sitting. I sat motionless so as not to disturb it.

The bird waded slowly into the water on its stilt-like legs. It appeared to be scanning the water for prey. It wasn't long before I saw a stab of its head, which resulted in a large bullhead being captured between its two beaks. The heron casually made its way to shore and dropped the wiggling fish. After a quick stab with its beak, the heron would then pick up the fish. This was repeated several times until the bird seemed convinced that its catch was no longer moving and ready to eat.

I watched amazed as the mighty bird flapped its huge wings and lifted off in flight. It would probably travel to a safe area where it could eat its food without being bothered. It was an interesting sight to observe and I hoped to have the opportunity to experience many more of those natural interactions.

The sky was a soft blue with strands of wispy white clouds. I would guess that a painter would need to move his brush very gently across the canvas in order to capture the lightness of the clouds. A refreshing breeze circulated softly through the trees. The landscape was lush and green from all the recent rains. I tried in vain to remember a time when the woods and fields had appeared so brilliantly adorned. It was an amazing day.

I had stopped by to look at the property I hoped to buy. After the shock of my banking experience had passed, I had researched and discussed several other options. Earlier in the week, I had decided to call the owner and explain my situation. I learned that she had moved to the care facility that she had mentioned previously. I called and set up a time to meet with her.

I found her sitting in a wicker chair on the community balcony. She didn't see me at first, but when she did, a big smile crossed her face. We chatted for a short time and then I told her what had happened. I figured the best thing to do was to be honest about my situation. I told her that I had a person who was very interested in my house and that I expected to close on a deal in the near future.

I noticed a little twinkle begin to form in those faded blue eyes. "I have learned some things on this journey through life," she said. "I believe I am a very good judge of character. I liked you and Dawn from the moment I met you. I believe you are honest and hardworking. I believe you will raise a wonderful family and bring joy and laughter back to that old house once again. I want you to purchase the property. I promise I will do all that I can to help you. However, there is one stipulation I would like to make. You must come to visit me on occasion and several times a year take me out to see the old property. I love that place and I don't want to lose it entirely."

A flood of emotions passed through my mind. First, there was joy in thought that I could still obtain the land. Second, there was sadness in the knowledge that this dear old lady would no longer be able to enjoy something that she genuinely loved. Finally, there was wonder in the fact that we had connected and that a new relationship with this amazing woman had been formed.

I looked into those eyes that had experienced so much. At the moment, they didn't look so old. Instead, they seemed to be exhibiting a bit of hope. I told her that we would love to be able to visit her and bring her back to the old house. I said that Dawn would love to spend time with her and maybe have her become a substitute grandmother. I told her that I could guarantee that the house would once again be filled with joy and laughter.

We talked about the financial arrangements and I suggested that we do a contract for deed. She said she would talk with her kids and get back to me on the finalizing of the deal. We had some tea and cookies and then I got up to leave. "Please bring Dawn with you the next time you visit," she said. "I really like that girl. She reminds me of myself when I was young and just starting out. I can give her some advice on how to keep you in tow." With a big smile on my face, I kissed her hand and then turned to leave. "I'll see you soon," I heard as I walked through the door. I turned to see a beautiful smile cross her gentle face. I thought I saw a little twinkle in her eyes.

As soon as I had returned to my car, I phoned Dawn. Her phone went right to message so I realized I would need to wait to tell her the good news. I was in somewhat of a state of unbelief as to what had just happened. Not only had I been assured the property, but I had also made a connection with another person. That is always an incredibly important event with me. Sometimes it is only a one-time event. But when it happens, you know it is special. In that case, I knew we would form a relationship that would last for a very long time.

During our talk, I had asked for permission to walk around and visit the property. I was informed that I could visit at any time. That is how I had come to be sitting on the beach and observing the world around me. In my heart I knew that I had made the right decision. Now I needed to take the necessary steps to improve my credit. Somehow, I had accomplished my task in the old way. Two people had met, the truth had been told, and a solution had been reached. An added benefit was that a friendship had been formed.

It was a wonderful morning. The grass was covered by a light dew. As the early sun caught the tiny droplets of water, miniature sparkles shone across the lawn. Here and there one could find a hint of a rainbow. The temperature was perfect. There was just enough of a cool breeze to breathe new life into your soul.

I spotted several ducks, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun, as they stood near the shore. They stretched their necks backwards as they sought to locate their oil gland. Then they would begin to lubricate their feathers for the day of swimming which lay ahead. A white heron flew overhead; its body contrasting brilliantly against the blue backdrop of the sky.

Suddenly, I spotted a bunny. I could not help but admire the soft and gentle presence that it added to the landscape. I tried to forget the destruction it would later cause to the flowers and vegetables I would plant. For now, it was a wild creature, full of life. It seemed to add a sense of peace and calm to my surroundings.

The trees, rocks, and bushes were mirrored in the surface of the water. The images on the shore were reflected back with just the smallest bit of distortion. A fawn moved cautiously down to the water for a drink. The small deer's mottled coat appeared to be fresh and soft.

I sat there for the longest time as I enjoyed the scenery around me. Gradually, I began to see some clouds forming in the sky above. I had plans for later in the day, so I headed back up the hill to my car. My little side trip had assured me that I had found the place where I wanted to spend the next part of my life. It looked like things were finally moving forward and that my dream might come true.

Dawn called and said she was at home and busy with the wedding planning. All our reservations had been made and the invitations had been mailed. Time was passing quickly and in only a few weeks, Dawn would become my wife. At times, the date had seemed so far away. Now, it was just around the corner.

I told her what the owner of the property had said and how she had promised to work with us on the purchase of the house. Dawn said that she would be happy to have the woman come and visit. I could tell by her voice that she was pleased as to how things were working out.

As I drove out from under the canopy of trees, I came upon a large open field. I slowed as I spotted a turkey foraging for some food along the side of the road. It looked like there might have once been a farm on the land. I studied the weathered split rail fence that was in an evident stage of returning to the earth. High overhead, I noticed several vultures swirling slowly in the sky.

Off to the west I saw that the clouds were continuing to develop. It looked like there was a good chance that I was going to get caught in a downpour. As I drove along, I noticed variations of white and gray patches of clouds. These patches were interspersed with wispy disembodied shapes that appeared to be lazily drifting along. As I watched, I could see various shapes that would form and then disappear. For a brief moment, I spotted a lizard with a long tail. That faded and then I soon saw an old man's face.

The sky continued to get darker and I noticed one especially dark and ominous cloud. It looked very menacing. Strangely, at the very top was a puff of the brightest white cloud I had ever seen. It looked so strange and out of place. I turned on my radio to see if there were any storms that might be headed in my direction.

The clouds continued to move and develop until I noticed a grouping of clouds that were stacked at a forty-five degree angle. As I watched, they continued to morph until they looked like a line of angry hippos marching their way across the sky.

I noticed a large droplet of water hit the windshield. That was followed by another, and then another. The sky opened up and the deluge came down. I finally had to pull over and wait as the heavy rain made it difficult to see.

The radio only warned of thunderstorms. I lay back and listened as the downpour beat upon the roof of my vehicle. I could smell the freshness that the rain had brought and noticed a slight drop in the temperature.

After the rains finally subsided, I continued on my way. It looked to me like the sun was trying to return to its former position in the sky. Gradually, a shaft of light appeared, followed by a patch of blue, and then the sun itself. I knew that a rainbow would be appearing somewhere, so I found a place to park and got out to take a look. It was very faint at first, but then it broke out into a brilliant display of colors. I noticed another rainbow beginning to appear above the first one. Both rainbows became very bright as they spanned the immense portion of sky above me.

What a beautiful sight it was. Two arcs of brilliantly colored lights were shimmering in a majestic display. I tried to take a picture so that I could to share it with Dawn. From experience, I knew that this little pleasure was really for me alone. To really enjoy it, one had to be standing in that time and space that I was currently occupying. I watched as the colors slowly faded until the arc was only a faint whimper of its former glory.

I heard them before I actually saw them. The distinctive sound of loons was coming from an area that was not currently in my line of sight. I tried to locate the direction from which the sound was originating. It appeared to be in an area that was hidden behind a stand of tall trees.

The sound grew louder and I knew that the appearance of the birds was imminent. The raucous calls were loud and seemed to be very near. Suddenly, I spotted the first loon as it stretched its body in flight. It was followed by another and then another until there was a total of eight birds in the air above me. It was a very impressive sight. Never before had I seen a flock of flying loons that large.

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