Sunday, July 18, 2010

GIRL IN THE IVORY CANOE - An Insignificant Short Tale

The cedar canoe appeared an apparition out of the fog that blanketed the lake.  It slowly moved across the mirrored surface of the water as silent as a thought, disturbing absolutely nothing;  the only proof of movement, the riffles created by the bow parting the exquisite liquid perfection as it made forward movement.  It was an exercise resulting in perfect stillness.  He casually reached ahead with the paddle, inserting the blade into the blanket of calm and pulled back upon the shaft , projecting the craft forward in absolute silence.  The canoe moved in and out of the soft, white environment as if it were a cautious creature born of the wilderness.  It was one with the natural environment.  It’s countenance non threatening but, totally interfaced with nature.

The occupant, a young man, enthralled by his surroundings,  handled the craft  by making directional adjustments with precise paddle strokes.  His mind was preoccupied with grandeur thoughts of far off places he would like to visit as his hands and arms automatically adjusted tilt  and force applied to the canoe paddle automatically without thought.

He was brought back to reality by the vision of a large floating, gray log dead ahead.  No danger;  nothing to worry about but, it did look strange as he approached the log through the early morning fog.   The log took on the appearance of a familiar entity.  It became a floating canoe.  It was an ivory colored canoe.   Another canoe!  Another canoe was out here on his lake.  An intrusion into his private moments.  As the cedar boat approached the apparition, he was able to identify the occupant of the strange vessel as a woman garbed in white with a bonnet upon her head.   The direction of the two crafts would cause them to pass within a yard of each other.  As his cedar boat came in close proximity of the foreign craft,  he prepared to voice his displeasure at the intrudence into his private world.  The two boats side by side; he turned his head to face the trespasser.  His face was drawn in displeasure and he prepared to emit a rather quick, rather terse phrase or 

two pertaining to how hard it was to find a moment of solitude in this day and age, even in a wilderness environment..   It was then that she turned her head to face him.

His mouth remained open.  Not a sound.  The prepared statement  he had created in his mind was stifled.   His opinion concerning the situation was quelled.  His eyes opened wide as they absorbed the girl before them.  She was a vision of perfection.  A white bonnet sat upon her golden hair;  hair that was without a curl and fell  below her shoulders and was shielded from view by the ash gun whales of the canoe.  He managed a rendition of the best greeting he could muster.
“Good morning miss.”

“And to you kind sir;  good morning.”

“A fine morning to be upon the water miss.  Have you been out long?”

“No sir, I have not.”

A long silence followed.  He could think of no words to say.   He was intimidated by her beauty.  She was gorgeous  Her countenance grand.  What to say?  What to say?

“Do you come upon the water often miss.”

“Why, as a matter of fact, I do quite regularly.”

Now what?  Why do I care what happens or what I say?.

“Do you live near by miss?”

“Yes;  yes I do.  And, you sir----what of you?”

“Oh, I maintain a small cabin upon the North shoreline of this lake miss.”

“And, do you dabble upon the water often sir?

“I do miss;  daily.  Often times multiple times a day.  I find great satisfaction in being upon the water in my canoe.”

“And, do so I, kind sir.”

Should he ask for her companionship on the water in the future;  perhaps share a paddle in the same canoe.  He knew it was out of the question but, he was smitten by her beauty and poise.  Could this casual meeting on the lake today possibly result in more than casual pleasantries?   He’s been alone for so long;  so very long.  The mere thought of the possibilities with this vision from the fog was almost unthinkable.  He turned to face her and his eyes drank from her cup of beauty.  The assemblage of her  green eyes and soft lips;  the perfectly shaped nose;  her gown of pure white and necklace of black velvet with the traditional white ivory pendant  created an aura of spectacular beauty that made his heart soar and chills travel the entire length of his body.   He turned his eyes down, her beauty surpassed the worthiness of his sight.

“What can I say?  What can I do?  He thought.  “This is but a chance that presents itself only once. “

Then he heard her exclaim,

“You only live once sir.   There are rarely second chances in this life.  Set your goals high and strive to achieve them.  Do not be intimidated or influenced into settling for less.  You are a master of  this environment because your competition is nature and through understanding of the natural surroundings and compassion for the lesser beings;  you have been assimilated into and are a master of it.  But, is it your real world?  I think not.   Transfer the passion you display for this secondary, imaginary existence you so love onto the world you are necessarily intertwined with.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  You will succeed more times than not.”

How profound!  How profound she speaks!   His mind raced, dissecting her statements.  Wait;

She said, “You only live once.”

And, she said;  “no second chances.  Don’t be intimidated and don’t settle for less.  Could it be that she is expressing some desire to extend an invitation for another meeting?  Could that be possible?  Her beauty intimidated him.  She was beyond his ability to even converse intelligently.

With head still bent down and eyes riveted on the bottom of the canoe;  he spoke.

“Miss;  what you have said makes perfect sense to me.  Your statements are rational and sound.  I can identify with them more than you can know.   I should like to honorably request  an early morning paddle with you, day after tomorrow, from the North Shore of the lake;  early enough to catch the morning fog."

He received no answer.  Did he speak too swiftly?  Was his request for her companionship too forward? 

He slowly raised his head and turned toward her canoe.  She was gone.  The canoe was gone.  His head turned and twisted rapidly in all directions.  He saw nothing but fog.  White fog.  Her name:  what was her name?  He didn’t ask her.  Did this really happen?  Did he want it to happen so badly that he actually thought it did?  His heart pounded.  He tried to rationalize what had happened;  if it really did happen.  Was he so lonely that he made it happen?

Does it matter?  Does it matter if the girl in the ivory canoe was real?  The princess of the fog existed for a moment. She gave him hope.  He realized happiness because of her.  He was made aware
that there is more to his life than this lake and his canoe.  There is hope for all men who set goals and strive to fulfill them.

This has been a great morning.  He realized there is a desire within for something other than the wilderness he loves.  Weather real or imaginary;  the girl dressed in white in the ivory canoe awakened a long dormant desire within his heart that had long ago left him.  There really is something more to enjoy in this life than the wilderness.

For weeks he paddled daily from daybreak until the morning fog left the lake trying to find the ivory canoe and the goddess who paddled it.  He knew it was a fruitless effort;  but he set his goal high and would not quit.  He longed to hear the words;

“Sir;  where have you been?  It’s taken you so long to find me.”