8 AM. Smooth waters. An ideal time to set off in my canoe, undisturbed by waves except for an occasional mild vibration from a speedboat or a water skier on the far side of the lake. This is the pattern of morning at Brant Lake. The water is calm until about 9 AM. Usually!
But not today! As I glided in the middle of the lake across from Raymond’s cottages, a wind suddenly arose and the water became too turbulent for a lone paddler in a 16-foot canoe. It was time to find a quiet cove on the lake. It was time to take shelter.
Near the white boathouse, shallow water was blanketed by white and yellow lily pads where a school of pickerel swam peacefully. This was an area that was protected from boats and from fishermen. The only fish that could be caught in this cove were the pickerel and nobody fished for them because their teeth were a hazard and there was too little flesh. The only inhabitants of the cove were herons and a pair of loons that returned every season to breed.
I kneeled in the middle of the canoe and gathering strength headed for this quiet refuge. At first the bow of my boat would not respond and as the wind increased I knew that I faced a real challenge, but eventually I arrived in the midst of the lily pads and the water stilled. I rested against a dam that had been built by a family of beavers and admired the masterful building enterprise even though the beavers had stolen a beautiful white pine from my property. However, on the bright side, the canoe had a ballast and was grounded in a stretch of water that was disturbed only by gentle ripples.
Exhausted from the journey through the turbulence I could pause and regain my strength. Eventually the wind subsided and I prepared to paddle home before the winds arose again. Paddling hard I returned home and pulled the canoe onto the beach.
Looking back at that early-morning event I appreciated the importance of the still waters in the cove where the lily pads flourished. Then I realized that our life is a combination of fast flowing waters and, in between, times of pausing. Most of our lives consist of a mix of rough waters and much appreciated quieter times.
This combination exists whether we are on the water or off the water.