Saturday, September 11, 2010

What floats my boat

I love nothing better than to push off from the shore of a broad, shallow lake and float out into its center--
the entire body of water around me, quiet and still.
Sitting low to its surface in my kayak, the sky above it all seems even more huge, its open space a giant dome across which birds and dragonflies course—
while I drift as a lone, small speck below.

Bald Eagle above Salt Fork Lake

Onto the quiet water in a small arm of Salt Fork Lake, a reservoir encompassing nearly 3,000 acres of water within Ohio’s largest state park, I floated with 2 friends in 3 small crafts—
Julie's 2 canoes and my kayak.

T.R. and Julie on the Lake

Fanning out from this hidden shore, we spread across the water, the entire space in this small corner ours alone.
Each carving a distinct path,
each finding his own perfect treasures to explore,

we paddled beneath the wide, arcing flight of a young eagle.

And were held in orbit around a tiny spot of color as she rested on the darkened remains of a flooded tree stump, now a pint-sized island sprouting elfin versions of the earthbound greenery along the shore.

Julie & ?

Question Mark butterfly on submerged stump

T.R. & ?

Bit by bit, we’d drift apart, pirouetting across the water to look into the face of a dancing fox hidden in weathered wood,

exchange a smile for a hand-delivered sandwich,

or paddle buoyantly--
because the freedom of water and waves feels like nothing else.

Then fall into line and speed to the opposite shore as one up ahead spotted a distant object standing motionless in the shallow water—

and knew all three would want to see.

Great Egret

As we watched the great white bird, a light rain fell across the glassy surface, and we sat in silence--
alone with the lake, but not.

My paddling companions:

Julie Zickefoose, author of Julie Zickefoose on Blogspot, writer, naturalist, NPR commentator, watercolor painter, gardener, packer of wonderful lunches, Mether to Chet Baker, fellow Ohioan,...friend,

and T.R. Ryan, author of From the Faraway, Nearby, photographer extraordinaire, talented journalist and writer, world traveler, conservationist, Oklahoman,...friend.

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