Small waves rippled across the surface of the quiet river, slowly turned, smooth as silk, by the autumn wind. If someone were to stand on the banks, they would hear mirthful laughter and shouts of joy approaching them from upstream, carried far and clear in the chill breeze. That onlooker would perhaps think to themselves of romantic excursions and midnight trysts— stuff of romantic novels. But the sounds were not two lovers whispering sweet nothings in the moonlight, but my friends and me on a grand adventure.
This adventure began hours before, long before we knew what would be in store. A brief spark of an idea had turned into reality when my friends and I decided it would be amazing to go on a canoeing trip! We set out and when we arrived at the river, we paid and the ten of us rowed off.
Let me tell you, I am a very strong canoer, but I would not say navigating is my best attribute on the water. Because of this, my roommate, Aysegul, and I decided that I would be the powerhouse and sit in front, while she would sit in the back and steer. Soon, the moon came out from very mild cloud cover, blanketing the river in white translucence. While this was happening, my roommate and I were trying to figure out the best way to steer! Even with the moon, the many trees around blocked some light and thus it was very dark. We were going around and around in circles at first, because we could not get a consistent rhythm with our strokes. Soon though, we found that she could tell me which side to row on, and we could gather a lot of speed! And so it went.
Full speed ahead!
Then smack! Out of nowhere, I felt something hit my forehead, like I’d been whipped by a rough rod-like…thing? The pain was so sharp and so sudden, I nearly fell back from the force of the blow.
“What’s going on?” I asked, rather sharply. I was surprised, and it was not the most pleasant to be knocked over by an an unknown object. Aysegul was calm though, “Oh, we just ran into a tree branch…”
“Could you try to tell me ahead of time next time?”
I got hit another three times, each time more comical than the last. My first plan was to duck and row, crouched down. In doing this, I flailed about wildly– trying to row, crouch, and stay in the boat all at once. Soon after this ill-fated attempt, we decided that we should just hang on to another canoe until we made it back.
But, my friends, don’t be fooled. This was one of the best nights of my life! From this, my friends and I grew closer, made many new memories, and had a lot of laughs over my uncanny ability to be hit by branches no matter how much I tried—desperately— to avoid them.
And so, if there were an onlooker on the bank, listening to that quiet fall night— he would hear the sound of ten friends, floating and laughing. He would chuckle to himself, I think, when we passed. Or perhaps he would be concerned for the helpless woman in the boat, on her grand moonlit canoe ride, getting bushwhacked by trees.