If I were a relationship counselor, I would advise every one of my clients to regularly spend quality time in a canoe with his or her significant other, navigating one of Florida’s swift and narrow rivers and creeks.
Is there a better metaphor for the journey of a relationship? Is there any other activity that reinforces the strengths of a good relationship, including communication, synchronicity and patience? Is there a quieter, more peaceful way to leave the clutter of our lives behind for a while, and rejuvenate our selves? Not that I can think of.
With those thoughts in mind, I recently asked Teresa if she was game for camping and canoeing on Fisheating Creek, in Palmdale. My sister and I spent a lot of time with our parents growing up on that creek, and it’s special to me for that reason and because it;s one of the state’s most beautiful and fishy watersheds.
Teresa and I left Saturday morning and arrived in time to pitch camp and get a few hours in on the Creek. We watched the sun set through the cypress, feasted on ground-venison burgers cooked over an oak fire, and crawled into our sleeping bags early, only to be awakened pre-dawn by hooting owls. That’s our kind of alarm clock.
We headed downstream, watching a pair of Everglades snail kites perform a waltz in the sky, gather nesting material, and then get busy making more kites. Roseate spoonbills flew overhead, and we startled flocks of wood ducks and black bellied whistling ducks as we slipped downstream. Egrets and herons lined the banks like sentinels. And sunning gators splashed into the water as we startled them.
We also fished a bit, catching panfish and small bass, which the Creek is full of. I enjoyed watching Teresa’s casting aim improve as life’s distractions slipped farther away.
But the day was not without a minor row, pun intended. She almost broke a favorite rod that she’d left dangling to the side on a log that protruded across most of the creek. The rod survived, and I would have forgiven her anyway. But I had to raise my voice to get her attention on saving that rod. Then I got a little terse with her when she started, unwittingly, working against my efforts to bring the bow around through sharp turns. I got TOLD! But I recovered by showing her how to make the j-stroke and invited her to captain us from the stern. Next thing I new, she was putting me in primo positions to make casts into the deep pools.
We went home refreshed, and knowing each other better as a canoe team, in the literal and metaphorical sense.
Fortunately, this state is full of canoeing/fishing opportunities for couples, families and fishing buddies to enjoy. Fisheating Creek just happens to be my favorite of them.