I found myself on the Mattapoiset River in Rochester MA a few weeks ago gliding along with my senses alive. I heard birdsong and gurgling water, smelled the dank river and the wafting scents of lush vegetation, felt the drops of water on my hands when I pulled the paddle out of the water and watched the changing landscape as it moved past.
Rivers are magical places; coursing with life, filled with energy. They can be powerful and gentle at the same time. Rivers offer a moving vantage point to observe nature and mankind and sitting in a kayak provides an additional unique perspective because you are literally immersed in the water, like a fish or mammal.
I was with a large group of 13 kayakers but there were many quiet moments of mindful paddling. This river has many narrow sections, less than 10 feet wide in spots and it can be tricky to maneuver when navigating its many curves. Wild brush seems to grow almost horizontal along both banks in some places narrowing the river even further.
At one point my paddle got caught in heavy brush growing out of the nearest bank, which almost yanked me out of my seat and into the water. I was able to extricate my paddle and right myself. A few moments later, the long nose of my kayak got wedged in more brush along the shore, the current swept me sideways and I started to tip. Again, I avoided a mishap.
These close calls heightened the experience and increased my concentration. I found I could still enjoy the beauty of nature while watching where I was placing my paddle, and while keeping track of the other kayakers in my group, to make sure I did not stray into their path, and likewise made sure they avoided me.
This little journey down the Mattapoisett river was a perfect way get reacquainted with my kayak and the experience filled me with peaceful exhilaration and happiness.
Top photo credit: David Fountain