It was a windy, gray, drizzly evening as we sat in the small boathouse for our teaching time. It was a building full of nostalgia, a building that gave a person that warm, peaceful feeling inside. Made of old, sturdy timber, it was perched above the rocky shoreline, supported by large wooden beams that acted like legs under a table. There were also plenty of windows that allowed the eyes to absorb the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Outside, we could hear the wind howling through the river gorge and the waves lapping against the rocks. The boats were creaking as they rubbed up against the floating dock. About a half mile west, we could see Mount Sinai through the mist—a huge wall of rock standing hundreds of feet above the water.
The river itself was immensely deep near the lodge due to the dam downriver. The dam was built decades ago, and it created a reservoir that, in some spots, caused the depth to exceed two hundred feet. The water was extremely dark, tinted with a copper hue from the tannin of maple trees that ran down the steep banks of the old forest that dominated the land. Far upriver, to the east, the river narrowed and abounded with rapids and waterfalls. Just miles in the other direction, where the sun would set, it finished its course by emptying into the cool waters of Lake Superior—the greatest of the Great Lakes.
Rivers. Wild creatures they are. Always moving, always flowing. All empty into the sea, sharing a common destiny. Yet the sea never fills. They produce wonderful sounds, ranging from trickles to roars. They are fed by outside sources: streams, smaller rivers, and falling rain. Unsuspecting logs and other objects often get stuck in their oxbows or bends. The water gets deeper and the current grows stronger the farther out you go.
There is something surreal about them. Whether a gentle stream or raging white waters, rivers, like fire, capture the soul in some mysterious way and enliven the imagination. As Mark Twain once said about the Mississippi, “It is like a wonderful book with a new story to tell everyday.”