During hot summer weeks, when the evenings barely let go of the heat of the day, the coolness of the morning makes even the short walk to the river refreshing. Especially so if one avoids air conditioning. I generally encounter few people at this hour, but as it’s a national holiday there are less cars on the neighborhood streets. The quiet is palpable. I savor it.
As I put into the water, calming sensations expand. Within seconds I acclimate to the warm water and gentle flow of the current. Though only my second float of the year, the routines of the beings along this stretch of waterway are very familiar. I’m unsurprised to pass a night heron perched on the boulders near the first low falls, where I’ve so often seen one over the years. We silently acknowledge one another.
If I float without exertion, the other beings I encounter look on, and go about their business. Such was the case with the heron, and soon after two mallards. Later on I interrupt a raccoon washing his breakfast (or dinner?). A few turtles, more cautious or shy, leave their logs on my approach. I slowly allow the serenity of the float to pervade my being. I can’t take credit for the sense of peace that begins to permeate me, but it’s particularly potent at dawn. As I’m carried beyond my thoughts, I recognize it’s “quiet” but not silent. Birds are singing near and far, crows cawing, a woodpecker rapping; a fish breaks the surface and the light slap of water echos. The river’s lapping and gentle ripples create a soothing backdrop.
I’m aware of a gentle breeze, as I fall back into this state of being, which at once dissolves me and connects me. The massive bridge overhead on reflection becomes a mere mirage. I notice a few leaves that have let go, doing soft air-borne pirouettes as they float toward the water. My tube nudges against a boulder just below the surface and sets me into a slow spin. I happily let go as well. In this “frame of mind”, this wordless state of being, where humans noises are minimized, a wonderful interweaving dynamic reveals itself. The clouds are shifting in a barely perceptible way, the flows of the current carry me in another, hundreds of water beetles are leaving mini-wakes on the glass-like water, and swallows swoop near in elegant arcs, twittering as they pass.
Immersed within this world, the only world we can know, I feel immense gratitude to be a participant, to briefly access this luxurious awareness. Rounding a bend, what had been a slight hum becomes a noise. I’m jarred into thinking, unable to sustain being as a piece within the peace. Several locomotive engines are idling adjacent my take out point, the force of their engines disrupting and dominating the last bend of the river way. Even the water is visibly vibrating. As I emerge from the flow, I can’t help but wonder how the old trees along the bank, a few clearly older than this railroad, tolerate us with such benevolent indifference.