Still Waters

Still Waters_1

The Missouri River shoreline, seen from the Moreau River.  The stone behind the heron is a wing dam jutting into the river, constructed to control shore erosion.

Still Waters

Paddle downstream
to the Big Muddy
Don’t stop this time
Enter the river with joy
Be one with its current
Let it take us, winding, on
to the heart stream of this nation
Follow that to the gulf,
and out to the beyond

So my kayak speaks to me

But I turn back upstream,
a hundred yards
on the Missouri,
fight the current
to reach calm waters,
knowing I would be stranded,
had I gone any further

I do love the current,
feeling its life,
experiencing the life
surrounding it
But I love as much
the still water,
the life embracing it

And there is a life
I would not leave behind,
given the choice


This could be thoughts on life in general – the comfort we find in the familiar (and the treasured).  It’s a product of thoughts I had while kayaking yesterday.  And, it actually is about kayaking (for me).
I have no interest in whitewater kayaking.  Something about the potential for uncontrolled submersion with the added risk of collision with large obstacles underwater turns me off to the idea.  I have been underwater with obstructions and low visibility – wreck diving and diving in limited visibility in the Niagara River (hundreds of times), but always considered those to be under controlled conditions.  I also have kayaked on the Niagara River, paddling two miles upstream against a stiff current, and then paddling back with the current.
In fact, I knew a man in his early seventies who had, for years, been making an annual paddle around Grand Island – at least twenty miles, with at least eight of those against the current (due to the island’s shape).  I suppose part of my comfort in paddling on the Niagara was my familiarity with it over nearly sixty years.
But the main difference between the Niagara and Missouri Rivers is that one (the Niagara) maintains a fairly steady level, while the other (the Missouri) has a water level that is always in flux – either through heavy rains and the resultant feed from tributaries or the release of very large quantities of water by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to relieve over-flooding of reservoirs upstream.  Debris, including trees and parts of structures, is always coming downstream, often snagging on the bottom and affecting the current and anything floating on it (especially something as small as a kayak).  The channel would be fine, but how would I get back?
Since I kayak alone, I cannot park a second vehicle downstream to use for return to the launch, which otherwise would make for a long walk home.  The farthest I’ve gone into the Missouri River is less than a half-mile – upstream first, of course, so I have the current pushing me back on the return.
I do enjoy the quiet streams.  They offer plenty of photo opportunities.  Now, to get a waterproof camera!

Still Waters_2

This view of the wing dam shows that the high river level on this date has partially submerged it – creating a hazard to unwitting boaters.


11 thoughts on “Still Waters

  1. I agree that it could be about thought of life, but I appreciate your explanation about the kayaking. It’s something I’ve never done, but I imagine that if I did, I would feel much as you do–enjoying the quiet waters and the time for reflection. Your poem expresses that joy. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • People do canoe and kayak on the Missouri. I’m happy in the smaller streams. The Missouri 400 is in August every year, going from Kansas City to near St. Louis, with several hundred canoes and kayaks, many of them two-man. Last year’s was delayed a week or so due to high water at the start.
      I’ve gone on the Osage occasionally, which is a fair sized rivet, but I see more wildlife up close on the smaller streams.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely delightful! My husband and I kayaker in the Gulf and bays while we shark fished. Desperately ready to get out on the Missouri waters. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I first started driving I would venture off the beaten path and take roads unknown. I learned early on, from my father, which main roads lead where and to be mindful of the time and the position of the sun (something today’s GPS driven youth take for granted). To me it was like paddling upstream. Taking the fork in the road and conquering new lands in one’s own back yard, knowing that the return downstream would be more rewarding, and appreciating all those newly discovered points of navigation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve found some interesting places to kayak here, trying to keep the round-trip drive under 45 minutes, for convenience. (And to make it back home in time to fix dinner!)
      As for the sun, most of these back roads wind in so many directions around hills and bluffs that sometimes I think I’m in another state. Wait a minute… I am! Missouri!


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