I hope you are not offended by my familiar or even intimate form of address, but after nearly a month together I feel we have grown quite close. Each day as I begin my paddle you greet me and I discover something new about your personality. While I am only a beginner, you have been greeting others for thousands of years. You have become my teacher. I have learned many lessons. Some I have welcomed, others have been hard and painful. You have taught me with the rich diversity of your path from marshes to pine forests, across large lakes, through farmland, along majestic bluffs, through maze-like bayous, by small towns, suburbs, and cities, over wing dams and through locks and dams. I have studied with eagles, trumpeter swans, geese, ducks, deer, otter, beaver, pelican, and, yes, mosquito. I have been humbled by your twists and turns, eddies, sweepers and whirlpools and exhilarated by your rapids, tail-winds, and strong flow after a rain. My sore hands, aching back, stiff knees, flagging frame, and frequently struggling spirit all remind me of my limits, my age, and my mortality.
But that is good, because you teach with a clarity and truth that I need to hear and embrace. And while I may curse you with some regularity I praise you for the “wisdom” you invite me into each morning as I set out from your shores.
Roll on, mighty waters!
Your humble “Paddle Pilgrim”