“No More Canoeing”

I didn’t want to hear my 80 year old friend’s response when I asked if he and his wife wanted to go canoeing. “The river is up in July- a most unusual occurrence. Will you come?”

No more canoeing.” he replied.

As in “never ever again?” I thought to myself. That sounds so final. I might think, ok, no more canoeing this summer anymore. The river dried up, have to wait for fall rains before we can get back on. But never again? That sounds so final.

I told him, “You can sit up front like a duffer and we’ll paddle your butt around.”

Nope. No more.”

I understood his decision, for he has a heart defibulator in his chest,  but I was not happy about it.

I don’t want to see my wonderful friend stop. Stop canoeing, stop enjoying life, stop living, as in some day he would not be here anymore to grace our lives.

I then went to our 70 year old friends and asked him if he and his wife wanted to come. “Nope, too much work to do around here,” he said.

Really? On a rare summer day when the water is up and we can paddle a lovely little stream like the Maiden Creek that we can barely ever run?

I thought to myself, wrong decision. In my mind, no work should be so important to stop you from a trip down the river. Not on a Sunday.

So my husband and I went ourselves and had a great time, despite that fact that we would have liked to have shared it. We saw the typical beautiful kingfishers dipping and chased the great blue herons up the river, but then we saw a huge mature Bald Eagle perched in an overhead branch, only 15 feet away. Then another. Then we saw a tiny fawn surface on the bank after it had just swum across all by itself, stumbling and laying down exhausted, looking like it nearly drowned, no mother in site. Then a loon floats by and dives and surfaces and we have never seen a loon in these parts – It was a spectacular paddle.

That 80 year old friend of mine may not remember this but many decades ago he asked me if I wanted to go on an outing. It was ice skating on Ontelaunee Lake, Reading’s water supply. It was an unusual winter and the whole entire lake had frozen over. He and his wife were going with another couple whom we all dearly loved. Todd and I opted out. We were “too busy.” Probably building our log home and thought we should keep working. At least that is what my husband probably convinced me was the best choice. It was not. I regret it to this day. There has never been another opportunity to skate like that all over the huge lake. And, shortly after that, our other friend’s wife suddenly got cancer and died. Nope, I never had a second chance with that experience. I learned my lesson.

I missed the company of our 80 year old friends on the river. And as for our 70 year old friends… he is going to get a lecture next time about missing out and putting off, because there will come a day, before you know it, when you will have to say, “No more canoeing,” for the choice will be gone.

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15 thoughts on ““No More Canoeing” Leave a comment

  1. Beautifully written and very insightful, as we’ve come to expect from you, Cindy. A gracious (if not subtle) reminder to us boomers to get ( and keep!) our butts in gear!

  2. My dear friend, Cindy! Canoeing would have been a great choice for a Sunday afternoon. It must have been magnificent to see a baby deer and an eagle so close by. ( The last time I was this close to this beautiful bird, was in Mongolia, where they where abused and used as tourist entertainment. My heart still hurts when recalling this memory.) I am glad you shared the sighting of a bird, free and beautiful. At times things happen fore a reason, I received a call early Sunday afternoon of an emergency in a friends life and I was glad to bring her to our house and listen and be there at the right time. Keep amazing us with interesting stories and an exciting life. Love, Wilfriede

  3. Excellent advice! I wish more people would understand not to take their lives for granted for someday their will come a time, as you so elegantly write, “…because there will come a day, before you know it, when you will have to say, “No more canoeing,” for the choice will be gone.” I’ve seen so many people put off truly living and in the end come to regret their choice. There was an article written by a nurse several years ago that assisted people nearing the end of their lives. In the article she mentioned of the many regrets that people had was that they did not take the time to live and enjoy their lives. Work was always a priority.

    Thanks for reminding us all to remember you are never too busy to go canoeing!

    1. i guess i have a very diluted fraction of that diligent, high work ethic that the Germans and Swiss possess (like my dearest husband)- and i do appreciate it as a gift- if it is managed- lucky for me he just listens so well when i tell him “enough work- we are going” – it is smart man who listens to his smart wife!

      1. There is nothing wrong with the diligent work ethic for there are times we must work hard, but we must always make time to enrich our lives and achieve balance. All things in moderation and that includes work. There is an old PA Dutch saying “We get too soon old and too late smart”.

  4. Your description of your older friends brought a bit of a tear to my eye…my parents are 81 and slowing down. They raised me as a hiker, fisher, and hunter and i spent many adult hours camping, biking, and canoeing with them. We recently biked Pine Creek rail trail, but mom’s balance and stamina are weakening. She is dealing with depression for the first time in her life, possibly because of loss of mobility and hearing, but she still tries. I have to laugh, though, when i think of the last time we got mom into a canoe…no problem canoeing, we just couldn’t her out! We laughed until we peed our pants, eventually dumping her out! I guess making memories is what counts.

  5. Hi Cindy, Wow! It really makes you think about what we do with our time. Enjoyed. I have a question for you, Would you help with BMECC’s quarterly newsletter by being a member of the committee? Sorry I missed seeing you at the ATC comference. Have a great day! Joan

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