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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: Meandering Journey
By Noreen Ophoff
09/04/06


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Matt and Hannah's brand new woven fiberglass Wenona Sundowner canoe slid easily into the slow current. They had carefully planned what to take on this first overnight camping and canoeing trip. The softside cooler was lashed to the center birch yoke. Dry sacks were stuffed with the two-person tent, sleeping gear, clothes and food. Their bentshaft, highly varnished paddles shone in the sun as they dipped into the ripples over the stone and sandy bottom. Each tied their life jackets to the suppports in front of them, Hannah at the bow, Matt stabilizing the rear.

Blue sky with wispy white clouds reflected in The Crook River. It meandered with slow determination against wide turns through a wilderness area. Matt's camera was in a small blue dry bag clipped right to his cane seat. He thought it would be exciting to see deer or maybe a black bear. Hannah didn't even want to hear they were in bear country.

Jumping in surprise, Hannah nearly overturned them when a pair of eagles dove into the water right in front of the canoe. One eagle caught a salmon in its strong yellow talons, and flew off, with the fish wiggling all the way to the large nest of sticks high in a pine tree.

The canoeists ventured onward. Vee shapes formed eddies that hugged rocks or submerged logs. The bowmate called out these obstacles as she read the river, to keep them safe.

Three hours passed quickly until the couple pulled underneath an ancient, spreading oak tree to take a break. Hannah pulled out tomato flavored flatbread wraps filled with ham, turkey, cheese and a sour cream mustard sauce she made up herself. Individual bottles of orange juice that rested right on the block ice tasted good to both of them. The river was so inviting each stepped from the canoe, into the knee-deep cool water. At the far bend the shallowness gave way to a six foot depth. It felt great to wash away the perspiration from paddling, to refresh body and spirit.

Four more hours of rythmic dips into the native highway passed uneventfully. Hannah pointed out a flicker and a meadowlark. Matt took photos of rills, one patch of whitewater, and eight turtles on a log.

The wide waterway led them to the rustic campsite area. Up a short hill they decided to set-up. Hannah turned the air valves on the self-inflating sleeping mats, spreading the bags across them. She got out the sweatshirts she and her husband would need when the sun went down. Matt built a fire. They snuggled while waiting for the dry wood to burn down into coals, so they could cook the brats. Sharing a crisp apple, slice by slice, was fun while waiting.

They spoke of God's magnificent creation, wondering how anyone could not believe in the encompassing love of a Saviour who made refreshing water follow crooked paths; a glowing sun to nourish; animals to leap and birds to sing. Hannah noticed the pattern on the burning wood resembled the clouds in the evening sky. She saw the design on a leaf mirrored in the formation of a stone at the river's edge.

The golden sun slipped silently away. Darkness crept through the forest. Yellow eyes were in stark contrast to the inky blackness. A porcupine trotted past the fire, down to this tributary to the big lake.

Matt yawned twice and chuckled. He neither knew nor cared what was the time, but decided to douse the fire and go to sleep. Hannah held the flashlight inside the little tent so Matt could find his way. He had turned the canoe upsidedown over their gear for safety from whatever night animals might come by. With a click, the light was off. The darkness and quiet engulfed the pair.

Just as sleep found them, an owl sounded, startling both travelers. Their laughter shattered the stillness. Dreams of bears, firelight and tomorrows, propelled them into exhausted sleep through the pitch-black, starry night.


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Member Comments
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Donna Emery09/08/06
Lovely, lovely, lovely. You captured the peace in this setting vividly. I want to go there!