The pain in my ankle has forced me to forego my morning walk, but there is no reason not to paddle. It is the first time I have been on this lake since sometime last August, but it is like an old friend, and I find comfort in sharing it with a friend. Who may or may not be old, but surely is older than i am, in many many ways.
I take too many pictures of her for her liking, but she cannot see the beauty that radiates out of her. She may not be a twenty anymore, but she is more beautiful in my eyes. One does not review an excellent aged wine and say, oh i wish it were 20 years younger, one savors it, holds it in their mouth and lets its deeper, richer, flavor sink in. It is a better wine by far. And I do not focus on her flaws, or know the things she hates about herself, I know my own far too well, they fill my own mind with endless chatter.
Here though, in this spot, I can see that chatter fall away from her, and a goddess emerges, the look of contentment as she basks in the silence, the sun, the shared friendship of many years. We are like tiny blue and green Buddhas made of modeling clay in this setting. When I emerge from here, my body filled with oxygen, and love, I am like a rock cairn, a steadfast sentinel in a crazy world.
We talk of the history of the lake a little, my body unused to paddling, of her previous trip to the lake with another old friend, but more we paddle, look at the loons, inhale the fragrance of the cedar and pine, and appreciate the graveyard of trees. This is all a gift, this silence, and shared solitude. Is it not what life is all about? I ask myself this question, does one live to work, or work in order to have moments such as these, where playing to take a picture of a lily leads to a vision of a heron catching fish. Where we count loons hoping for as many nesting pairs as the lake will take. Where only the sound of the water dripping from the paddles and the occasional clunk on the side of the canoe, and the breeze as it carries us in waves back to the put in.
This is the silence that I yearn for, that I spent many months without, many years not looking for it, or understanding its place in my soul, or my own need for it, This love of myself, reflected in what I see in her, is touching, and delicate and fair, where I am none of these on my outsides. But it reflects a strength that is undeniable.