Skip to main content

A Kindred Spirit

That morning, I paddled the cove, searching around fallen timber and boat docks for bass. The first one I hung into pulled my kayak around like a bathtub toy, even though he was no more than two pounds. I took a good look at the fish, then flipped him back into the tangled mass of brush that I'd pulled him out of. When I paddled back out away from the bank, I saw a man in a red kayak, working the shoreline toward me, although his only fishing rod was upright in the rod holder, and his hands were prodding the rocks, as if he was searching for something. I just watched him, wondering what he was looking for, and then when he pulled up a wad of mono with a Carolina rig attached to it, I knew he was a treasure hunter.

He looked to be around 70-- slender and tall with a white goatee and ponytail, earrings and tattoos, a stubby pipe puffing smoke as he paddled on around the bend to find another jewel.

When he looked up, I threw up my hand. He took the pipe from his teeth and said, "Morning, captain," and he paddled out toward me.
As he got closer, I could hear the faint sound of John Fogerty's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" coming from inside his vessel. I wasn't real sure what he had in mind, but I was pretty much stuck when he pulled his boat up to mine and reached over and pulled our two kayaks together.

"Everything going your way this morning?" I asked.

"Ah yea, you know," he said, "just another beautiful day." He just sat there with his arm on the side of my boat, and we both looked out across the lake, taking it all in, I figured.

"You live around here?" I asked. I couldn't think of anything else at the moment.

"Yea, just down the road," he said, "I'm here every Saturday, just about." He put his pipe back in his teeth, "Smoke bother you?"

"No sir," I said, "go right ahead." I didn't want the old hippie to think I wasn't cool.

We talked about random things like the weather, the kayaks, fishing. We introduced ourselves, and we awkwardly shook hands. He showed me his finds from the morning: a Daredeville spoon, a Rat-L-Trap, and a chain fish stringer. I told him about the fish that I had caught, adding both weight and length to it, like all good fishermen do sometimes.

As I listened to the man with the white hair and kind eyes tell yarns, I felt at ease. He didn't know me from Adam, but he acted as if we'd been friends for years.
Soon, we talked about our family life, and even touched on religion a bit. I knew that this was a chance meeting, as if we were put there that morning for a reason.

We said our goodbyes, and he shoved off. As I watched him paddle away, I thought about how I'd like to be that kind of man one day-- a simple man that will take time to get to know a stranger, and share this thing called life with them. I hope to run into him again.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Returning to the Woods

I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.
-Mary Oliver, Upstream

There are times when I desire to get lost. Walk out the back door, climb over the fence and escape the modern world and the humans that inhabit it. I have always been a solitary soul. I spend too much time inside of my head, and without something to observe and attempt to draw conclusions from, I tend to get restless. I can spend hours walking hillsides and valleys looking for nothing in particular. Often I walk along the roadside, jotting down notes if I have pen and paper on me, or try my best to commit something to my faulty memory. My perfect day would involve watching a cliff swallow building a nest under a bridge that crosses the river. Or seeing a young doe hurrying her young across a country road on a late summer evening. What I gather from the earth does not have a market value. It cannot be bought, it cannot be sold. It…

A Letter To My Father

Two years ago, this very night, you were still here among the living. You had no idea of what was to come in the early hours of the morning, but I know you had some inkling. You'd been talking about it for a while, and the Sunday before, I was told that you 'd made things right.Your mind and body were weak from fighting to hold onto your spirit, but your spirit was so much stronger, and it was determined to be set free. Your pain would soon be over, but you liked to fight, always did. You were the most stubborn human being that I have ever known, and I know that at the end, you were no different. I'm sure it wasn't your choice to go, despite all those times you cried, saying you wanted to die and be put out of your misery. When the medics had worked so long on you and decided to give up on you, your heart started back beating, as if out of spite.  I wonder sometimes what those last few hours were like for you. I wish I could've been there for you, like all the time…

Hemlock Cathedral

The morning fog was lifting in the mountains and the sunlight had began to filter through the trees. I turned off the asphalt highway onto the gravel road. The only other vehicle in the parking area was an old International Scout, so I took a few minutes to check it out as I slung my pack over my shoulders and grabbed my hiking staff, and then started walking.I walked for a few minutes, and up ahead, I saw an old man and a dog. The man was sitting on a big rock, and his dog was just standing there beside him. The old man looked to be in his seventies, he had a wild grey beard and a floppy hat and glasses as thick as Coke bottles. His shirt was unbuttoned to his navel, and had white chest hair and a gold rope chain hanging out."Beautiful day, ain't it?" he said."Yessir.""Looks like you're headed to the top," gesturing at my pack."Guess so," I said, "You too?""Nah, this is enough for me. But I can't think of a holier pla…