I drove over Chicken Bridge with the radio blaring Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Can Happen”. It had to be loud because the straps holding the canoe on the roof of my car were vibrating like swarms of angry foul-mouthed bees. Errant sprinkles hit my windshield but the weather man had sworn up and down that it wasn’t supposed to rain until 4pm. He never lies.
I don’t think it has stopped raining for the last three weeks here. It’s been giving us a little summertime sadness. We needed a sunny day. We needed an easy day – the kind that
rewards you for the simple things. The Haw River runs low, typically. But, because of the non-stop raining, it was higher than I’d ever seen it – still runnable, still safe but high. The run from Old Greensboro to Chicken Bridge takes us about 4 hours on a good day.
So, we took to the water. The put-in was, well, difficult. The canoe wanted to run away without us. The reef was slunk low underwater. I plunged into a mud bank and almost lost a shoe. Michael was lodged between an underwater tree and a patch of poison ivy on the bank. The river gods demanded an offering but I needed that shoe. And, I needed that husband. So I unglued my feet from the muck and crawled into the canoe. Michael eased himself up behind me. We managed not to topple the boat over, somehow.
We made it about 50 yards when it began to sprinkle. And, then the wind started blowing. And then, the rain picked up. And then it was torrential. We looked at each other when the thunder started. Together, we shrugged, stuck our oars in the water and started paddling. The current was swift and the rain was cold. And, we were just two idiots on a swollen river, laughing because even the fog and rain are beautiful on the water.
I ate my peanut butter and nutella sandwich as quick as I could and slugged my trusty Silver Bullet before the rain watered it down (ha!). I threw my crust to the fish, grabbed as much litter as I could as it floated downstream and asked the river gods if that would suffice. A Thunderbolt cracked out an answer and I began to think our boat would sink with the force
of the rain.
But, then, something sweet happened. Blue sky skirted in and the rain tapered off. We didn’t hit a single boulder hidden under the brown water. We found some great rapids – normally absent on this particular run. The air started to feel warm and sunny. We laughed and talked and spun around in the currents. We began to think maybe today was going to be an easy day, after all.
We managed that 4 hour run in one hour and 35 minutes. If drinking beer and canoeing was an Olympic sport, we’d be gold medalists.
I didn’t think about work.
I didn’t think about the rejection email I’d gotten this morning (Bah!).
I didn’t think about what a drag the rain and humidity have been.
I was in the moment, a free spirit, earth child, water sprite. I thought, it’s really kind of true. Anything can happen. And, when it does, we’ll be just fine.
Oh, and then, at the take-out, I slid on a slick of mud, twisted my ankle, cut my leg and landed on my ass in a mud puddle. I’m pretty sure I got poison ivy on my big toe. Oh, and somehow, my left thigh (and only my left thigh) got sun burnt from the twenty minutes of clear skies.
I guess I don’t know what the moral of this story is supposed to be.
Oh yeah, right.
Anything can happen.