The first time we went out on the water, BF spent more time looking back and stopping for me than he did enjoying the adventure. For the inconvenience, on this time around, I assured him he could enjoy the trip without worrying about me, now that I knew the course of the river from launch to landing. Besides, with his shirtless back facing me, his sculpted shoulders busy at work, I had someone quite pleasant to focus on.
We planned for one more day on the New River; the cool, clear water beckoning us to enter and clear our souls. My soul was a bit heavy, having to bear the uncomfortable feeling of entering a home in distress. We didn’t know anything about our host family’s marital split prior to our arrival, and even more so, I didn’t know I had to be on the defense as the only woman among related men. For me the water was liberation from the snarls and scowls of a wounded male, a free moment to tune to nature and scale off the superficiality of man.
A meandering was in order.
Depending on which data you reference, the New River in the Appalachian Range is one of the oldest rivers in the world. To ask the locals you would be certain to believe it is the oldest. I’m not here to contest any of that data, but I will say this: from water to stone to tree to sand, the entire universe of that river felt primordial.
Pushed off and well into our course, I smiled, looking through clear water at the mica-flecked stones along the bottom. BF wondered if they were flecks of actual gold. I told him how mica is used in cosmetics to offer that under skin “glow.” In the moment of that interaction, I felt the goddess Isis widening her giving wings over the both of us. As much as I wanted to share, “Isis is here!” I remember the unfortunance of the double meaning, and hold back.
Our small barques wound their way over pure water, hugged by rocky shores with faces almost a billion years old, deciduous trees lording over us as the sky laced between their green fingers. The sun loved us enough to warm our shoulders bronze. A breeze, like a subtle tongued kiss to the neck, won over my frazzled spirit, and finally, I could relax. My stroke through the water intensified, my shoulders winding fluidly as I searched out the deep pockets. In the shallows, I dug with might and determination, “No! I won’t get out of this boat!” BF was far forward. I sensed he’s on his own journey, and let him be.
At the thought to allow my love to float along and be with the river, I came upon the most curious sight. Bear in mind the north-flowing current was constant but not strong that day. The water itself was cold, but not unbearable. As I paddled to the right of a patch of moss, I saw a yellow and black snake completely erect, protruding from the center of the moss. I slowed to admire this behavior. I don’t know of a snake that would sun in the center of a river, let alone do it standing up! Then I noticed he started to wave, along with the current, but I took it as a “Hello!” A glow of yellow-gold light, filled with good, fortifying medicine, swaddled me. Oh Snake, I prayed, thank you for your gift. I kept looking back at that vertical creature until the river pulled me from view. The entire time, Snake stayed in that tall position in the moss. Imbued with blessing, I hurried towards my love.
The New River curled towards our landing. We came across a black and white border collie, feverishly digging a hole along the shore. As there was a makeshift swing nearby, we figured he was a member of that riverfront household. The collie, more preoccupied with his find than us, leaped from his post then climbed up the hill ostensibly towards his home.
But he didn’t go home.
This collie followed us the remaining few miles of our trip, swimming between the kayaks, landing on either shore, taking off into the woods; yet he’d always return. I heard the words, “Wolf Medicine” echo between my ears, then, experienced an unavoidable snag in the river. My kayak landed on rocks. I watched as the collie and BF continued, then realized, Spirit wants me to hang back. From my landing it was abundantly clear, this wolf descendant and this mountain-spirited man were meant to meet. Side by side, Wolf and Man paddling, quietly as to not disturb the existing serenity. It was overwhelming to behold. To the mountain I prayed, “thank you for his Wolf medicine” before returning the barque to a deeper pool of water and paddling on.
The topless silo signaling our stop, our wolf company disappeared into the nearby tree farm. On our landing, BF found a perfectly flat, round stone which he pocketed. I helped myself to a larger stone, the width of my hand, so that I could enjoy ancient river medicine anytime.
When Man weighs you down, let Nature lift you up.