adventure, Affirmation, beauty, canoeing, childhood, Creation, Faithful Living, God, John Muir, Kindred Spirits, Lessons from the Wilderness, Marriage, Nature, River, Silence, Uncategorized, Water, White Water Paddling, Wilderness Paddling, wisdom

Where Words are Unnecessary

I must confess that I covet the times my husband and I paddle a river alone together. Being surrounded by boats, family, friends, and visitors, we are more often than not on the water in big groups.

He is a much stronger, abler paddler than I. He can read the currents and the wind in ways that let him slither downriver like a water snake-completely at home and at one with the boat. It is a marvel to watch him, when the edges of man, boat, and river blur into lovely moments of being in nature, rather than standing over it.

We met 57 years ago as children.  Now, the canoe and the wild river are symbols of our relationship. Stable and still in deep quiet water, swift and determined in the face of life’s challenges and submerged snags. We seek out the wilderness for our own restoration as individuals and as man and wife. We travel the rivers and lakes because this is how man has traveled the deep, dark forests for centuries, taking us where no road can go, no cell phone can reach. We go quietly. Reverently. Following the world’s first paddlers past rocks and pines, scrub oaks and scarred outcroppings, shallow sandbars and towering eagles’ roosts.

Out here, life hangs on; a tree’s roots cling with enduring hope, it’s branches reaching for God. Every breeze lifts a melody. The deer snuffs and stamps. The kingfisher scolds. The milkweed suckles the Monarch.

And all the while, the waters flow down, the land bowing to its power and majesty. John Muir said, “The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.”

My husband and I need to be where words are unnecessary that we too might glide, and where creation does all the talking and singing for us. Where there is healing at every bend.

Where the earth’s broad sighs, and the sun’s nightly farewell give the soul hue and heft, and space and weft. Like candy at a parade, the wilderness tosses us joy with remarkable abandon, and we unwrap each treat with childish wonder that our hearts, together, could know such timelessness and beauty.

It is breath. It is gift. It is life. It is marriage. And it is ours.


Thanks for reading!


Loon, Marriage, Petoskey Stone, Uncategorized

Hunting Petoskey Stones with the Loons

We are camping at Petoskey State Park in northern lower Michigan this week, on a shakedown cruise of our new (to us) RV. Located on Lake Michigan along a sandy strip that was once a tannery, the park is tucked into dunes that quickly transition into hemlock and beech forest. It also abuts a wonderful bike path called the Little Traverse Wheelway, which we rode north into Harbor Springs under a cloudless sky yesterday.

Today is as gray and rainy as yesterday was bright and clear. We hunted petoskey stones between downpours this morning, wading in 43 degree water (great therapy for pesky plantar fasciitis). Our bucket filled fast with over 100 stones. A loon swam along with us about 50 yards out, letting out one lone wail to let its mate know where it was.

I looked down the shoreline to watch my husband hunt stones. He was standing like a human question mark *, head bent, shoulders hunched, knee-deep in the mirror-calm melted ice. No need for him to yodel like the loon, he knew I was nearby. We have haunted these waters together for 45 years. We know each other so well, and share a simple but never stale delight when one of us finds a particularly beautiful petoskey stone.

Back at the picnic table, we sorted through stones and slugged down hot tea. Just one morning of many. Deeply satisfying. The rain resumed, a sky unburdened; a revelation of the simplicity of time spent side by side in unusually quiet waters at the edge of the whispering forest, like a loon pair with an oft-stamped passport of a long-married life together.

~J.A.P. Walton

* this analogy may be attributable to Jane Austen (cannot find the exact source)