The water is crystal clear as the front of the canoe moves out into the main channel. You and your paddling partner are grinning from ear to ear as the current takes its first tug on your floating haven. The sun is shining bright and warm on the back of your right shoulder as you dip your paddle for that first hard stroke. Almost instantly the canoe picks up a significant amount of speed and it creates a breeze on your face and causes your hair to blow behind you. The best part about that breeze is that it keeps the flies away.
The river winds lazily between ribbons of silver maples which keep you shaded when the noon time sun and the rowing heat your body beyond your comfort level. Some of the maples bare scars, high up their trunks from where ice scoured against them during the spring freshet. If you were to stand in your canoe, the scars would still be well out of reach and you struggle to comprehend the amount of water that must of flowed through the area during the regular flooding.
Your stomach growls and you are brought briefly back to reality when you remember your lunch cooler sitting in the middle of the canoe. You scan down river and spot a gravel bar on the inside of a turn less than a hundred meters away. From the stern position you point the bow toward the gravel bar and instantly your buddy grins approval, without even saying a word, he knows where you're heading.
The gravel bar is warm and relaxing as you lazily chew on your sandwich. The flies however, have made an appearance, and you become slightly irritated. You quickly guzzle the soda you had lugged with you and hastily shove the last piece of granola bar into your mouth. As you leave you drop the soda can into a bush and the granola wrapper blows into the current but since you're irritated you decide to leave them.
You continue down the river and you start to notice a great deal of litter along the shoreline. Now you feel a bit guilty about your contribution to the problem. Plastic grocery bags hang in the shrubs along the shore like prayer flags, while pop bottles sit like old small ship wrecks on the bottom of the river. You notice oil jugs sitting amongst some chokecherry bushes and feel ashamed. Thankfully, a big, bright tailed, bald eagle flies over head and you once again start to note the amazing gifts mother nature offers.
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