I like to jump in my canoe and head out with no real destination or purpose, just letting the wind and my whims lead me where they may.
I have often thought about the connections that paddlers experience when canoeing. Peace, reflection and wonder come to mind.
It's a desire to seek a form of quiet meditation. I find it natural to turn to paddling as a meditation point. I'm not sure that the canoe is the real catalyst for me though. It's the natural environment that really elevates my awareness and feeling of heightened spiritually and belonging. For instance, I would not feel at one with my surroundings if I was paddling indoors in a chlorinated pool, where as I might feel totally different if I had hiked into a remote waterfall.
But canoeing is in my blood. I have found that it is not a separate entity in my life but part of my psyche and personal make up. My Dad, by example, showed me that this balance was possible. He was always so busy and active, working and going non-stop for months at a time. Nevertheless, he recognized that he really needed the quiet solitude of a wilderness journey to nourish his soul and rekindle his spirit.
As far back as I can remember, I have been spending a part of my summer canoeing and camping in the wilderness. These have been memorable and rewarding trips but equally important for me is the hour or two of paddling I can squeeze into the middle of a busy week. I like to jump in my canoe and head out with no real destination or purpose, just letting the wind and my whims lead me where they may. Upon returning I enjoy thinking of the adventures I will be able to continue on my next paddle.
It's fun to fantasize about paddling. To imagine exploring further that tiny trickle of a headwater, that slowly builds and turns into a lively river with rapids I dance in, and chutes and falls I portage around, and mirror-like pools I spin and play upon. However, nothing can substitute for the real thing. So I do get out there. And when I do, that feeling of being at one with the land and water and air slowly surrounds and envelops me, it feels very calming and Zen like. And I know that in my dreams and in my life I will eagerly continue on, going just a little further down that creek to see what is there and what new wonders the wilderness will have to teach me.
Excerpt from Petawawa River: Where One Hears the Sound of the Waters by Becky Mason article
....Many consider Algonquin Park the jewel in Ontario's crown. It is indeed a magnificent destination, and for canoeists it offers an almost unlimited myriad of opportunities for adventure. The Petawawa River is my favourite Algonquin trip, especially during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall when it feels like I have the river all to myself. Over the 40+ years that I've been paddling the “Pet” it has become a kind of touchstone for me.......see full article and 3 other Canadian Canoe Culture stories of Becky's writings published on www.northernontario.travel/outdoor-adventures