Evening in July on the Grand River. . . our sturdy green canoe bears us away from the concrete and asphalt, from 4 walls, from maddening traffic and fluorescent shopping malls into a watery retreat from city living. From the first dip of the paddle we are transported into another realm. The brilliant orange embers of waning sun blaze a path on the water's serene surface. The quiet blankets us -- car sounds are replaced with bird calls, ducklings chase their mothers, three majestic, long-legged grey herons scan the shore lines for their fish suppers. We paddle as silently as we can to get as close as possible, but inevitably the large birds scare and display their wing spans as we silently watch their flights. We pass scullers out for an evening row. Soon we are alone, under the cloud canopy. Evening is beginning. The air is fragrant with the smell of vegetation and earthiness wafting from the distant banks.
The water is wide. . . smooth like glass. . the clouds are perfectly mirrored there. A glance at the water disorients us, it seems almost as if we are paddling through the sky, the white and blue of the heavens looks swirled on the river's surface, like a glorious water colour painting. . ripples spread concentrically from the oars. . .skitter bugs skate along and fish occasionally jump up and slap down. It seems unnatural for us to sit on the river without feeling the wetness of the water, yet we drily slice through the murky depths swiftly and silently. I place my paddle over my knees and plunge my left hand into the cool water. . i let it trail along as Rob continues to row. We talk occasionally, but often we are silent. . . and we don't mind the absence of words.
as the sky darkens we reluctantly turn around, we've paddled a long way. . . but an upstream roar draws us further and we spy a rocky water fall that tumbles from remnants of escarpment, cliff-like rocky outcroppings that line some parts of the Grand River's path. We bring the canoe alongside the falls to watch that water foam and surge from high above us. . . there are no shallows at this part of the bank. . just a straight drop down who knows how far? We sometimes try to gauge the depths by attempting to sound the riverbed with our paddles -- there is nothing to touch here. Sometimes I admit I'm a bit afraid sitting over the inky depths of this living remnant of ancient lake that once covered the entire city. I picture what lives underneath the water, undulating plant life, squirming, swimming creatures, i picture the contours of the bed far below, its dips and shallows, its rocks imprinted with prehistoric fossils. I feel a bit scared, and very small, but exhilerated and calmed all at once. We shove away from the weediness. . long, green strings of vegetation wrap around the oars, but these are washed away as we paddle outwards into the middle of this beautiful buoyant pathway.
We drift past the river view homes sitting high atop the banks, we feel a stab of envy as we see their suspended decks and enclosed glass lookouts. . what a glorious place to live! close to the water, its smells and sounds, its rippling and lapping, its mirror-perfect calm and deceptively powerful and deadly undertows. . the glorious Grand has claimed lives and commands respect. . and we we pay it -- our life jackets are always securely fastened.
The dock comes into view and twilight is falling, we timed it well . I wonder what it would be like to sit out on the water, floating, under the full moon and the pin point stars, see their reflection in the blackness under and over and all around. . . idyllic, but ill advised! We disembark reluctantly. . but the river is always there beckoning. . . "come away with me". . .