As if with the tranquility of canoeing Nantahala Lake in mind, the sun did not shine directly through the window. Instead it in slipped in silently and tempted our senses peripherally while caressing the trees along the creek’s bank with a soft golden warmth. We woke up in each other’s arms to the sweet music of rushing water; feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and utterly surprised at how well we’d slept.
BOTH OF US!!!
Our morning was energetic, although I still hobbled like an 80-year-old. John made a juice to promote my thiamine consumption, while I made banana pancakes to promote our pancake consumption. We had a casual breakfast swinging by the creek, enjoying the playful patterns the sun created on the water’s surface with the pups at our feet.
This moment was another example of the Universe bearing its soul to us and embracing our existence. After breakfast, John packed some snacks, water, and cider into the cooler for our paddle while I cleaned the dishes.
We then “hightailed” it to the lake.
Don’t confuse that with us trotting or even walking.
We drove the short distance to save my legs.
When we arrived, I realized the very real potential for rain in the distant, foreboding clouds and grabbed a small plastic doggie poop bag to cover my camera if there was a storm.
John loaded the cooler into the canoe, and we began our paddle, exclaiming to each other over and over in awe of the endless beauty and tranquility of being back on the water. It made such clear sense that I had struggled so hard to survive and truly to be active in moments like these.
We all die eventually, but how many of us truly live?”
We paddled to the melodies of dragon flies, barn swallows, and the occasional king fisher, while telling jokes, stories, and simply loving life. The dogs passed the time watching the water drip from the paddle or create ripples in our wake.
It was magnificent.
Then John alerted me in a concerned tone, “Uh Oh. That’s heading right towards us,” gesturing towards the dark clouds hovering over the valley ahead, “That valley’s getting hammered. We should probably turn back.”
We turned the canoe around and thinking of my extreme sensitivity to cold, paddled as hard as we could towards the dock. I was pretty confident that we could out-paddle the ominous approaching clouds.
I was incorrect.
John guided the canoe under a large tree, to protect us from the approaching torrential downpour as the smell of the stalking rain cloud overwhelmed us. I relaxed a tad, feeling safer from the potential onslaught than I had when paddling without cover under the clouds.
A moment or two later,
Fat raindrops began to fall, blanketing the lake in a mist of icy liquid (It probably didn’t feel like ice to the layman, just me). After a minute or so, the drops began to filter through our “cover” and mercilessly land on my bare skin. While trying to come up with how I felt in the moment, I’ve settled with this:
It was as if a trillion angry mice were stabbing me everywhere with tiny knives.
I’ve wondered silently…how did I make them so angry?
To put it gently, nerve damage sucks big donkey balls.
I found myself immediate whimpering, even squealing a little, while I dramatically arched my back and leaned my head a little to try to hide ineffectively under my cowboy hat. I was clenching the side of the canoe with my left hand with a white knuckled grip, and a gnarly knob on a big log with my right hand.
Then I panicked.
I let go of the log against which we were saddled, and in a desperate cry, exclaimed,
OK, let’s just paddle back!”
To understand the severity of this situation, you must know…I equate this type of panic to being in a fire fight, but behind some good cover. Then when the first round punches through that cover, ditching everything and running aimlessly into the barrage of fire.
I’ve never done that, nor even considered it.
Yet, my first response in this moment was to abandon the slight reprieve we were getting under the trees and paddle into the torrential downpour.
John, however, was a bit more level-headed.
He simply told me no, and oddly enough, that’s all I needed to hear to stay put and wait out the angry rodents. I went to my happy place. You know, the place I’ve gone to when in severe pain to simply wait it out in silence.
Eventually, a small patch of blue sky appears, and begins to move towards us, however, another storm cloud is following it pretty closely. The storm clouds over us seem almost stagnant, however, and for a second, it seems as if we will have to take the canoe into the storm anyway.
What feels like an eternity passes, then as sudden as it began, it stops.
I point towards the dock,
It’s clearing here, though it’s still raining over there,”
Relieved to be in the clear, we called the dogs back to the canoe, packed up our things, and began to paddle.
I was feeling quite frigid, as was John, so we dug in deep to create a bit of warmth. It was beautiful and clear for the moment. We wanted to beat the approaching cloud, so we paddled hard.
We kept paddling, but couldn’t outrun the storm. We were in the open under a sky that was holding nothing back. I dug deep to fight off the infuriated mice and increase my body temperature.
Suddenly it hit me.
I looked up at the sky above.
Nothing but grey.
I looked up at the sky behind us.
A small patch of blue, then nothing but grey.
I started to chuckle.
By the time we hit the shore, the storm had passed, and the blue patch and light skies were again upon us.We had paddled so quickly, we’d left the patch of clear weather, and returned to the storm. We laughed readily at our silliness.
Tough little fight with those mice, I must say, but absolutely worth it for how we laughed when we hit the shore!