Monday, October 16, 2006

Let's Kayak to Work! My wife is amazing, and she is crazy about celebrating birthdays (lucky for me). So on Saturday, she drove us over to beautiful Chester County, through old farmlands, past crumbling stone walls, and down shady roads that had more twists than an episode of LOST. She wouldn't tell me where we were going. She didn't say what we were doing. And I was very cool with this. After a gorgeous ride through this country, sporting it's finest fall colors, we pulled up to the Northbrook Canoe Company, a string of tired old buildings with wide boards and people wearing flannel shirts. It was nestled beside the cool and meandering Brandywine River. I got out of the car and cried "Woohooooooooo!" Now there is something about water that just cries "God" to me. It's flowing with His presence! Tolkien said that in the music of the sea there is still a trace of that ancient music that made the world. It makes it's way through all the courses and the currents and the veins of the earth; a sweet music that can calm our minds and smooth over the troubled surface of our hearts. We were dropped off 3 miles upstream by a flanneled man, (he was an artist and his grandpa came over from Italy, and he had shades like Bono). As the flanneled man in the van pulled away and left us in the wilderness with only two paddles to defend ourselves with, I took in a deep breath of that sweet farm air and descended to the water's edge. "Yippee! It's my birthday surprise!" Little did I know that another surprise was awaiting me, just seconds away. I would not cry "woohoo" when it was given to me. I got Rebecca nestled in her vessel, set her afloat and then attempted to fit my 6'4'' body into the 5'3'' watercraft. Yes, I fell in the water. It was cold and I got wet. And then we laughed. See, I had actually planned to do this. I thought to myself, "Self, let's give Rebecca a little laugh as we begin our voyage downstream." So that worked out real nice. The trip was absolutely beautiful... we couldn't have asked for a better day. In the sun-dappled stillness, we sliced through the water like otters, and the shimmering liquid peeled back before us like the plastic sleeves of a photo album. So we put our pictures in there. And they were pictures like this: - me, all wet and soggy, with some leaves stuck on my arm - us, slicing the water like otters - a Great Blue Heron, sailing majestic and silent over the Brandywine (good eye Rebecca!) - sycamore leaves, drifting beside us like fossils through amber in a watery museum - schools of fish, silent and slick beneath us - gnarled old roots of trees gaping out at us like toothy smiles from the Old Forest - maple trees dropping their leaves, sailing over us like shards of stained glass soft to the touch At one point in our journey, Rebecca said "This is just another way of transportation." What we held in such solemnity, when placed in the past, was just travelling from one point to another. But for our ancestors, the travel was closer to the earth. There was no climate control, no adjusting of the vents or turning up the radio. You were a traveller, and you were moving through another world. You would watch it, drink it in, listen and look at it as it passes you by and you pass through it. You would appreciate it, and maybe even learn lessons from it as you went. I remember seeing a commercial once of a new SUV. The Leviathan, or whatever it was called, was cruising through the desert, then past beautiful, snow-capped mountains in the distance, handling turns with laser precision and stuff. Then the camera zooms in to show you the comfort of the interior. And there you see the kids in the back seat, as the country goes zipping past in all its splendor, watching a cartoon on a TV that's built into the rear of the vehicle. What the? So I think we need to start kayaking to work. Let's walk if we can, or if we drive, let's drive slower! Or leave earlier so we can slow down and watch the world go by! Or let's just quit our jobs altogether and live on farms again! Woohoooooo!!
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