Friday, March 1 2024 - 11:09 PM
Photo by Dreamstime

Can You Canoe?

My husband and I were invited to join a group from his workplace for a retreat day at a local state park. The main objective was to canoe down the spring-fed river and then have a picnic together. Frankly, it sounded hot, sun-burned, and a little scary; a Florida river in mid-July, with alligators and snakes at home. Canoes are not the most stable and secure form of transportation. However, I wanted to be a good partner to my spouse. So we signed up for a canoe. Secretly, I hoped that my husband and another single man would end up doing the paddling.

I have been in a canoe five times in my life. We had not been in a canoe together for at least 25 years. The simple rule of paddling on the opposite side of the direction you want to go sometimes seems at odds with my brain. My last memory of a canoe ride was when I reached out too fast with my paddle, and we ended up tipping over, spending several hours in cold, wet clothes. That came after spending a thunderstorm huddled under our canoe on a bank. However, this time, with my husband at the rudder and myself at the bow, we managed to stay upright on course and avoided low branches and sand bars. After two hours on the water, I was very proud that we had become an effective canoeing team.

A Lot of Confusion

As I watched other canoeing couples and families, I noticed a lot of confusion. Many people didn’t know how to maneuver their canoes, and they ended up sideways in the river or stuck in the lily pads and foliage at the sides of the river. One canoe got stuck on a pile of debris in the middle of the river. Several tributaries were tempting for the adventurous or foolish. Some people were yelling and giving commands while we quietly worked around them. I noticed at least one woman who had a fellow at the back of her canoe who didn’t have much skill and were struggling down the river.

My greatest fears were being rammed by those who didn’t know how to canoe or were intent on racing down the river to impress others. Some of our group even stopped and got out at a riverside refreshment stand and never did travel very far.

Team Work

I would like to try canoeing again with my husband. We each had a significant but different role in moving the canoe through the water. He had a good sense of how to steer, and he asked me to watch out for logs and problems ahead—teamwork—steering, observing, and planning. We tried to enjoy watching for wildlife and weren’t in a big rush. We were patient with each other and didn’t scream or yell. I had learned not to jerk or quickly reach out. We shared drinking water and tried to head for shade when possible. During the trip, I wore my life preserver and held on to my paddle.

A morning on the river reminded me a lot about our marriage and life. How is it with your canoe? “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ” (Ephesians15:5, NIV).

Karen Spruill writes from Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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