Last weekend, Teresa and I felt like some peace and quiet. Instead of splashing the big boat, we set out in a canoe across the mirror-smooth waters of the Everglades. My parents raised my sister and me canoeing in the Glades, and I feel so at home in those boats on those waters that I can get a little impatient with new paddlers. Teresa hadn't ever been canoeing, which means that we hadn't been canoeing together before. Both of us were a little nervous – for separate reasons – her worries related more to tipping over and alligators while mine revolved around how one patiently teaches his better half a new skill.
If you have ever been canoeing, especially with your significant other, you know that navigating successfully without flipping it or banging into stuff requires a spirit of adventure plus good communication and coordination between the paddlers in the bow and stern. It also requires the patience, trust and ability to proceed calmly when you do get broadside to a cypress stump, when mama gator "smiles" at you or when the going gets shallow, windy and tough. Come to think of it, a canoeing adventure is a pretty good metaphor for a relationship, and a great way to build on one.
With the water low, and trail to the open lake grown over, the first 50 yards were tough going through weeds and mud. We couldn't make any headway unless the two of us pushed off the bottom at just the right angles with our paddles at the same time. Both of us were panting by the time we made it to the open lake. More importantly, we were grinning hugely. We'd made it – together.
We spent the afternoon gliding across this chain of lakes, fishing and watching wading birds feed, while gators and bull frogs croaked at us from the banks. We made it back through the weeds and mud in time to enjoy the sunset drop down behind the scrub forest that circles these ponds.
There are more places in Florida to rent a canoe than you can shake a paddle at. A few of my favorites include the Loxahatchee River near Jupiter, Fisheating Creek in Palmdale, the Myakka River near Sarasota, and of course the Peace River near Arcadia. For information on canoe/kayaking opportunities wherever you want to visit in Florida, visit the Kayak and Canoe Paddling Trails Association.
Canoeing makes a great "date day." Enjoy the glide.