On Middle Creek, moving slow

Middle Creek photo

Middle Creek, above Pawnee Lake, Nebraska, June 1, 2013.

Reach ahead gently with the paddle and draw it back slowly, a good long stroke, and you’ll keep the kayak moving with very little noise. Just a steady dip, dip, dip of the paddle blades, and the boat itself glides silently across the still water.

I came across a deer one time while paddling this way, not far from where this picture was taken. He was a young buck, a four-pointer, and he lay curled up by the creek bank. He saw me before I saw him, of course. It was autumn and his tawny coat blended in with everything around him. He lay still, watching me with shiny black eyes. I stopped paddling and floated nearer and nearer. We both felt indecision — me, whether or not to try for the camera; him, whether or not to stay put.

I was floating past him, barely a paddle-length away, when at last he arose and bounded effortlessly up the bank and was gone.

That was one day, this is another.

The thing to remember is that there is no hurry. The boat is moving, but I’m not really going anywhere in the sense of having a true destination. The whole point of the trip is to be moving through the water. As long as I’m doing that, I’ve arrived — or rather, am constantly arriving.

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