A week or two ago, our family vacationed on the banks of the Gasconade River, at a small private campground just across the river from Boiling Spring, a cold water spring that bubbles up near the east bank, pouring more than 42 million gallons of fresh water into the river each day. It was a pleasant vacation. We caught a lot of fish and spent many hours on the water just floating and sunning and enjoying the "down time." Friends from church were camped nearby, and we enjoyed their company and strengthened that relationship during out time together.
For most of us, everyday life can be somewhat hectic. The day-to-day pressures of work, maintaining a home, raising children, and other responsibilities can sometimes lead us to "burn the candle at both ends," so to speak.
There is something special about burning the energy of life -- which is inevitable no matter where you are -- at a somewhat slower rate than usual. It helps to clear the mind. It helps one to focus on the more pleasurable of pursuits. You might say that it quiets the spirit.
There is little pressure to perform while floating on the river in a canoe, casting into the ripples and waiting for that tell-tale tug on the end of the line. The smallmouth bass are there, just waiting for the right offering with the proper presentation. The biggest effort put forth, in fact, was in trying to keep the canoe top-side up. Finding logs and boulders submerged just under the water line is always a surprise. Find one in a somewhat non-stable canoe and you realize you have muscles you had forgotten -- all binding up at once in a heroic effort to keep you firmly seated and relatively dry.
I always think the fish are watching; laughing at the efforts of man as we pursue the day's chosen quarry. The ones who are not starving and struggling to glean some tasty morsel from the rocks as the rivers force flows over the rapids must surely be sitting in the still pools laughing as we struggle to stay upright, find the right bait, and miss the log jam created by some past flood.
Occasionally, the pumpkin-colored beetle spin tied on the end of your line dances past the nose of one of these larger fellows and he can't resist the temptation to challenge you. Grabbing the bait, he feels the pull of the line and dives for deeper water or hidden structure. When the realization comes that he is hooked, he charges for the surface and performs a top water dance in hope of throwing the hook and freeing himself from the torment, not knowing that he will be released as soon as he comes to the canoe.
Yep -- the pressures are few when floating the river. The real turmoil comes when the week is over and it's time to pack up the camper, strap the canoe to the top of the van, and return to what most of us call reality.
But I believe it's worth it.