August 21st, 2005

life is good


If you sit really still and listen, in addition to not causing the canoe to wobble violently, you'll hear the water life under and around you. That stretching sound is your muscles, pulling and contracting in ways you'd forgotten. That slapping splash and arpeggio of water drops is the paddle dipping in, pushing and displacing, your body the motor that moves the boat forward. Fronds wave slowly and wetly beneath you, you pass so quickly over them, their elongated strands leafily undulating, wetly waving. An army of dragonflies darts madly about, a zipping sound, capering and dancing above the green surface. One lands on the prow of the canoe, 4 wings become 2 for the split second of stillness, the electric cobalt prong of his body at attention behind him. The kissy-faced orbs of waterlily blooms bob in the water, tiny mats of variegated green leaves form a deceptive carpet, swirled and scattered by the descent of the paddle.

A tamed and hemmed waterway, the Kävlinge River is defined by fields and the demarcations of agriculture. No one tends it, or keeps it clear of the twining underwater oar-grabbing reeds. The water is opaque in most places, a tranquil green, giving way to translucency in others where you can see all the way to the algae-edged water plants lining the bottom. The current is swift enough to propel you without much effort, even in the marshier sections where you have to work a bit to slide by the sharp-edged green reed-knives, but not so fast that you must battle to keep to the center. Black and white cows gaze at you incuriously as you glide by mooing to their blank faces. Egrets, red-tailed hawks, various ducks are seen, but never close by. You're struck by the curious lack of river life. There are no otters, no beaver, no small sleek and furry bodies watching from the branches of half-submerged trees. You see no fish, no frogs. The sun is hot and high in a blue sky; perhaps they are all napping, dappled dreams of leaf-shadows on the water. No one says a word as you sing Moon River to the water and the riverbends.

It's so warm that even though you're not exerting yourself to the point of sweat, it still feels heavenly to rest your paddle on your legs for a moment and slide your fingers into the water, wiggling them to feel the streaming pass between and under your hand. Cooling your pulse in the river, and then slapping up a handful on your knee, sliding your still wet hand across your forehead or your cheeks. Thirst begins to drive you faster to the halfway point where a stop for drinks and sweet rolls awaits. You'd forgotten how much you love this silent sailing glide, this view of the world from the water, so different from your usual view of the rolling asphalt river from behind a windshield.

Kävlinge River