I’m tired and a bit grumpy today. When I sat down at the computer I had no plans to write, I just wanted to check the Campfire to make sure all was well. That was when I remembered this story. I wrote it way back in January for my other blog. It was one of my very first attempts to be creative.

The story is based on a canoe trip I took last summer, and it was just the thing I needed to brighten up a bit. So I copied it over and edited it (a lot!) to fix the little mistakes that I found. For a few brief moments of time I was back on that lake…


The mist hides the world from view. While the sun has been up for a few hours now, the fog still stubbornly clings to the water. A darkened shape looms up from the distance. Appearing at first as a light grey tone, it ever so slowly darkens with each paddle stroke. Soon a small island slides by off to left.

Hidden in the gloom there is a distant call from a loon. Is it just a blind as me right now I wonder? Has it lost its way and become separated from its mate? It calls out again, the haunting sound all the more chilling this morning. Finally from further away another loon answers. What was lost, is now found.

There has been no talking in the boats this morning. Just the sound of paddles slipping in and out of the water and the breathing of my companions as they work. A lean forward and a paddle dips in the water, followed by a quiet grunt as it’s pulled back along side the canoe. Rushing water breaks across the bow as the boat moves steadily forward. We are three shadowy shapes drifting in and out of sight as we work our way across the lake. The water is as smooth as a mirror, only being disturbed by the wakes of the canoes or from a random fish breaking the surface to feed. It is like we are the last six people left in the world.

The sun has climbed higher in the sky now, and I now can start to make it out through the mist. A bright spot climbing higher into the sky, that with each passing minute becomes stronger as it burns off the mist. The lake is taking on a different look. Much like the curtains at a show, the veil of mist parts to show the distant shore.

I look back from where we have come from. Last nights campsite is gone, lost from view behind several other islands. But the smell of smoke from the campfire still is fresh in my mind. Pausing, I remember the laughter and stories shared at it last night. Good times! But for now those memories must wait, because there is work still to be done. Turning back, I see my partner looking off into distance too. What does he remember? Then with a splash the moment is lost and we fall back into paddling.

Even now there still is very little talking from my comrades. It seems that we are lost in thought today which is fine with me. I revel in the silence, the utter lack of the sounds of humanity. Yesterday the modern world reminded us it was still there when a jetliner rumbled far overhead. A small distant reminder of the place we are now returning to. With each stroke, we are closer to home. 

Looking ahead I can now make out the yellow sign marking the portage point. The other two boats have also noticed it and they sprint forward with a burst of paddling, each trying to reach the shore first. Very soon the boasting starts as one finally out paces the other and reaches land. Once again our boat arrives to shore last, but I don’t mind the teasing, and cat calls. For me those extra few minutes on the lake is reward enough. Soon sand rubs against the canoe bottom and there is a splash as my partner jumps out to pull us ashore. We have finished the first paddle of the day.


6 thoughts on “Paddle

  1. Hope you are more rested and less grumpy soon! This is a stunning look at life in the canoe and all the nature around it. They always tell us writers to write what you know, you can tell you wrote this as it was part of you.

    • Billie,

      Thanks for that! Yes feeling more rested now. The grumpy however…

      It was a great trip even though it poured rain for half of it.

  2. I liked this the first read….and I still like it. Especially after a crap day at work like today. I wish I were in a canoe….far up north, away from the workplace and its inconsiderate people that don’t get open office concept and feel the need to behave worse than beaver-aged kids. Calgon take me away….

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