Friday, September 19, 2014

Stand Out Paddling

 I've lost count of how many times I have passed under Folsom's prominent Rainbow Bridge. The bridge is a historic landmark of the area. Built in 1917, the bridge crosses over the upper end of Lake Natoma and the American River. A 208-foot long concrete arch spans the rocky ledges of the canyon to help give the bridge it's fabled name. Photographed and painted time and time again the bridge is truly a magnificent sight. 
I can remember last year when it loomed before me as I paddled up the lake. Before I had moved to California, I had only seen it in pictures. As I paddled under it, I felt a thrill in pushing against the current and past the silent monument. It was my welcome to Californian kayaking.

It is routine now.  Lake Natoma is my home lake. I have kayaked it so much and so often that I could probably name the geese. Like all home lakes,  I still find it beautiful and fun to paddle around. I enjoy the quietness of its sloughs and the loftiness of its high banks. I love that the water is just minutes from my home. But that's where I have taken the lake for granted. I'm used to visiting it day after day.

Great days fade into the next, when I'm out kayaking alone. Sure, I have soloing days that are special. But, the lasting and great memories come from paddling with my wife. I love to watch her glide across the water. As an artist, she delights in changing colors of sky and water while making paintings in her mind. She will frown and voice disgust when a loud radio vanquishes the peaceful solitude of the lake. This is her moment to enjoy what God has painted before her eyes.

I paddle behind trying to keep up, while she reveals to me the wonders of the water. This is the first place we kayaked together when I came to visit her before we were married. We had rented a bulky tandem sit on top and paddled together across the lake through the sloughs. It was a cool day and we had the lake to ourselves. We toured through the marsh enjoying the trees, birds and each others company. Now, every time I pass through those sloughs I remember that day. Every time. It will always be one of my best memories of the lake. 

 Debbie and I shared a sunset paddle the other day. Nothing exemplary, we are heading into fall and the sun is setting faster each night. We had to race back now before the sun slammed into the horizon. A fleeting golden reflection illuminated the water and silhouetted Debbie and her kayak. The rainbow bridge is close and beaming in the setting sun.

We will leave no lasting imprint. Water has no memory. However, sharing it with each other will always make each visit to the lake stand out.