Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 22

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

Our wedding day had finally arrived. The sky was gloomy and overcast. It placed a bit of a damper on my mood, but not too much. A dream was finally going to be fulfilled. I would become one with Dawn. She would officially be my partner and my companion. It would be a great day. True to tradition, I would not see Dawn until I saw her walking down the aisle. My expectations for the day ahead were great.

We had chosen to have our wedding on the property of the oldest stone house in the area. The structure dated back to 1839 and through the years had, at various times, been used as a trading post. The yard would work out just fine for our wedding. The flowers were just beginning to bloom. They added one more layer of beauty to the already amazing surroundings.

Our plan was to have the wedding outside, but it seemed that the weather might put a damper on that idea. The forecaster predicted that it would clear up, but it sure didn't look like that would happen. I had hired a horse and buggy to carry us to the bed and breakfast where we would spend the night. No matter how the weather turned out it would be a great day.

I tried my best to look good for the occasion. My hair had been cut and I was clean shaven. I had on a tux similar to what would be worn in the mid eighteen hundreds and shoes to match. The wedding was scheduled for five in the evening. I had hired a string ensemble to provide the music.

As I drove over an old steel beamed bridge, I could see the carcasses of mayflies that had come up from the river the night before. In some places the insects were several inches thick. I had learned that they would exist in the river until the day that their wings had formed. Then, one day, they would fly out of the river in swarms. They had one purpose to accomplish in the next several days.

Their grand mission was to mate and make more mayflies. They would swarm out of the river looking for that one special mate out of the thousands, have one brief interlude of incredible passion, and then fade back into oblivion. Many were destined to failure and quite a few would probably end up splattered on the windshield of someone's car.

I guess we should be grateful for the repeated pleasures that we are allowed to have in our mating process. Looking back, I really should be thankful for the many times that Sandy and I had experienced together. As I thought back to those occasions, some especially amazing times became, once again, vivid in my memory.

Now I was going to embark on a new series of intimate relationships. New memories would be made and new heights would be explored. The thought of that physical closeness brought a flush and a feeling of excitement to my body. I would no longer need to restrain my passions. I would be able to join in the relationship that I was designed and formed to do.

I gave myself a mental slapping. "Keep your eyes on the road," I muttered. The night before, I had listened to a piece on the nightly news about distracted driving. Here I was driving along a busy road without using my full concentration. What would happen if a deer should jump out in front of me or the car in front of me should suddenly brake? That would bring unneeded and possibly disastrous results to this highly anticipated day.

For the remainder of my trip, I concentrated on watching the road around me. I drove past some beautifully landscaped yards and several blocks of restaurants and shops. I soon entered the historic part of town and passed several beautiful old mansions. I noted the turnoff that led up to the historic old bed and breakfast where we would spend our wedding night. I experienced another rush of emotion as I realized that this was indeed going to be an incredible day.

I arrived early and decided to take a stroll along the river. I found a large rock where I could sit and contemplate this next step in my life. I thought about Sandy. I wondered what her thoughts would be on my impending marriage. Would it take away from the time we had experienced together?

Sandy and I had not been able to say our goodbyes. One moment she was there; the next moment she was gone. It was getting harder to see her face in my minds eye. Out of respect, I did not want to forget those memories that we had built together. Time has a way of making periods of your life seem like some dream in which you were just an observer. At other times, it almost seems like something that happened in another life.

And yet, Dawn was here and now, a living breathing person. She was beautiful, wonderful, and kind. I think Sandy would have enjoyed her as a friend. I think they would have gotten along beautifully together. My mind seemed to move from thinking about Sandy, to thinking about the upcoming wedding. I realized that I had to be completely in the moment. I knew I needed to enjoy the day to the fullest, even if something should go wrong.

As I gazed out over the water, I noticed a beam of light shining from the sky above the opposite shore. As I watched, the illuminated area continued to grow in size. The sun was coming out. The weather seemed to be cooperating after all. It was beginning to look like the sky would clear and nature would willingly contribute to making this a great day to be married.

As the time for the wedding drew closer, the clouds moved out until the sky was once again a brilliant shade of blue. The grass and shrubs were vibrant, a result of the recent rain and the bright sun. Many of the flowers contained tiny droplets of water, which, if you looked closely, would give off their own tiny rainbow. It almost looked like someone had walked around and misted the gardens.

I checked with the sound guy and was informed that the system was working. I adjusted several chairs. I took a walk over to the paddle boat to make sure everything was in order. The ensemble arrived and I greeted them as they began to set up. It looked like everything was going to go off as scheduled.

The members of the wedding party soon began to arrive. Everyone looked so nice in their wedding attire. As the ceremony grew near, I started to get a few knots in my stomach. The wedding was really going to happen. I'm not sure why I had the butterflies. It was a step that I knew I wouldn't regret. Still, I was getting nervous.

Guests started to filter in and the wedding party was directed to gather by a tent that had been set up for the occasion. The photographer began to take pictures of various groups and individuals. It was nice to chat and be congratulated by friends and family. The weather continued to cooperate and a gentle breeze made the day very delightful.

The time finally arrived for the wedding party to gather on the small island just outside the cupola. I was supposed to wait for Dawn at the end of the small bridge. After she had been given to me, we were then supposed to walk over the bridge together. We would then stop in front of the cupola where the Minister would conduct the wedding.

The music began to play and the wedding party walked in pairs between the rows of chairs that had been set up. Each pair would pause briefly before walking up and over the bridge.

As I gazed out over the people who had gathered for this special time, I realized how much it meant to me to see our friends and family who had gathered to share in our upcoming union.

The last to walk down the aisle were the flower girl and boy. They were incredibly cute as they walked along spreading flower petals from their baskets. I had to chuckle as I noticed the boy stopped to look over the railing of the bridge. He was indeed doing what a boy would do.

The music changed to announce the arrival of the bride. I could hear the movement of the guests as they stood to watch the bride walk down the aisle. I turned my head to look at the woman I was going to marry.

What I saw took my breath away. Have you ever looked at something that was so incredibly amazing that you knew that your head could not contain the stimulus before it? There in front of me was the Aurora Borealis, the Grand Canyon, an evening ocean sunset, and a Rocky Mountain vista.

The unfortunate thing about nature is that you can only experience that beauty when you are standing in its presence. In Dawn's case, I could experience her beauty every time I was with her. I could partake of her wonders on a daily basis.

I have to admit; I starred. I wanted to burn that image into my mind for all time. I wanted to remember every little detail of the day of our union. I was reminded of just how fleeting that time would be.

I watched as her delicate feet took each step down the aisle. I watched her gown as it rippled in the breeze. I noticed the beautiful bouquet that she held in her hands. But most of all, I looked at her face.

I saw the angel who had looked out for me when I had fallen. Her head was adorned with braided hair into which were woven beautiful flowers. Her cheeks were rosy and her eyes were shimmering like the blue sky above.

Her beauty was too much to bear. I had to avert my gaze for the slightest moment. Could this really be happening to me? Could I really be so lucky? Was I in some sort of parallel universe? I looked again and saw that she was still there and continuing her walk towards me. I was overcome with emotion.

I heard the words, "Who gives this woman to this man," but my thoughts were elsewhere. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. It was almost as if a spell had been cast over me. We continued to walk over the bridge to our place in front of the Minister. Her arm was in mine and I could feel the transfer of energy that was going on between the two of us.

The Minister started to say a few words about the joining of two people in holy matrimony. I was finally brought back to reality when I spotted the antics of one child.

During the beginning of the ceremony, we had arranged to have some children hold big letters that spelled out Love, Honor, and Cherish. We had arranged for the children to raise the cards at special times that would coincide with what the minister was talking about. I almost burst out laughing when I noticed one of the boys pull a frog out of his pocket. He proceeded to place it with its arms resting on the inside of the O. I pointed it out to Dawn and a big smile crossed her face.

From that point on, the ceremony took on a new meaning for me. It became a time of intense happiness and celebration. It was a joyous time as we proceeded to become man and wife and promised to love each other as long as we both should live.

We smiled, winked, and Dawn giggled. When the Minister said that we could kiss, we did just that. We must have made quite an impression, because we got a big applause out of the audience.

The Minister announced us as man and wife and we proceeded to walk down the aisle. Many of the people later told us that they could see the joy and happiness being expressed on our faces. When we had finished our walk, I turned and gave Dawn the biggest hug. I will never forget the look on her face. It was joy, pure and boundless joy.

I thought of the circumstances under which we had met. I remembered how I thought I would never see her again. I recounted the time when she had paddled back to my site because she had no other place to go. I remembered the affect her reappearance had made on me.

After all our experiences, we were finally officially married. As we walked toward the river where the paddle boat was docked, a train went by. The members in the party waved as the engineer blew his horn. We listened to the thump-a-thump-a-thump as the wheels of the train made their music on the tracks. It seemed to add just a little more sense of romance and history to the day.

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