It was scary, but fun.
Going back to my hometown in Ohio, the landscape and scenery was beautiful. Breathtaking in fact. The hills and trees were something to behold in all seasons.
One of my favorite things to do was to canoe down our main river. On any given summer day, a group of friends would get together and throw our boats into the water to spend countless lazy days of fun and memories.
What's my point with all this? Well, I worried that my kids wouldn't have the same love of nature. I began to wonder how they'd ever get to experience these sorts of things. That's when I searched for a way to take them canoeing down a river nearby. I wanted them to be able to enjoy the gorgeous trees and colors of fall while it lasted.
Little did I know...
Like I said earlier, I've been white water rafting down a big river which was pretty intense. I never would've believed that I would be more scared in a simple canoe though.
It all began rather nicely. The six of us gathered into two canoes. Adam had our nine and seven year old boys with him and I had our eleven and five year old little ones with me. The day was perfect and the river was low.
They made it through...we...didn't.
It all happened so fast. Our boat went straight into one of the trees. That was fine, but then the current pushed us along side of the trunk so we became lined side by side with it. I tried to paddle us forward to get away, but our eleven year old said, "Don't worry, Mom. I've got it."
Just as I realized what he was about to do, it was too late. He tried to push against the tree without realizing that by leaning us to the left, we'd take on water...quickly.
The canoe began to go down and get pinned under the tree but I figured it would be okay since the river was so low. What I didn't realize, was that where we were, was actually deep.
Christian, Lauren Elizabeth and I all fell into the water and began to scream with how cold it was. Fighting to gain some hold either from under our feet or against the canoe, I instantly became alarmed at how there was nothing. I couldn't touch and what was worse, I realized that the current was beginning to push our five year old under the canoe. If she went down, there was no way for me to see her anymore.
I began to fight against the river that was pinning me to the boat. I yelled at Christian who was in the front to hold on. I tried with everything to get to our daughter, but it was useless. Between the current pushing against us, I had to redirect and think quickly.
The good thing about growing up in nature, is that you learn at a very young age that in almost every case, you're never going to beat it.
Everything in me screamed to pull with all of my strength to get to my child. As much as I tried to get so much as a tug at her sweater though, the force wouldn't let me. Growing up with the river, I had to go against reason. I had to let go.
I yelled at Christian and Lauren Elizabeth to grab onto the boat and hold on. I began to fight with everything in me to lift and push the canoe away from the tree. The fear that pounded through me gave me the strength to force it out of the water and away from being pinned. I saw Christian and Lauren grow fearful as they realized I was pushing them away, but they couldn't know it was the only way to make them safe.
As soon as the canoe broke free from the hold, it shot around to the other side of the fallen tree where I realized Adam had already pushed the other two boys into the riverbank, then jumped out of their canoe to swim up river to get to us.
He caught our boat with the kids still hanging on while I pulled myself around the tree and swam down river to meet them. My adrenalin was rushing so fast and it was hard not to cry.
Adam pulled our canoe to shore and dumped the water out while we searched for lost paddles and shoes.
We switched gears and put Christian and Lauren with Adam from then on and the rest of the trip was smooth sailing, minus one cold and unhappy girl.
Mother Nature can wait awhile.