Kayaking looks like it’s all about the arms, but that’s a sure way to burn out too quickly. You know that true power comes from a one-two-three push: brace the calves, squeeze the gut, pull the bicep. Watch the whirlpools spin out endlessly behind you as you glide forward through the tannin-stained water that looks so like the sweet tea you crave. Look up, past the spindly branches reaching across the river, dripping Spanish moss, up to the blazing sky. Fiery blue. [If that’s possible. After today, you know it’s possible.]
Beside you there is movement and your eyes snap down, searching the shallows near your paddle for the glowing yellow orbs of the alligator you just know must be lurking nearby.
Breathe, because it’s only a turtle. He’s holding his small green head above the surface and you imagine he just wants to say hello. Southern hospitality.
Rest your paddle on your lap. The cool wet metal on your burning lap like a salve. Wait for your momentum to peter out, for your boat to stop. Notice that it doesn’t.
The river is carrying you. Slowly, slowly, drawing you forward.
Breathe. You tilt your face up to the sun, just as a blue heron leaps into flight.
Breathe. You are always in such a hurry. The river will carry you forward.