Monday, June 21, 2010

Rapid Experiences at Ridge Creek

His palms are sweating . He can hear the rapids growling beyond the bend. He has made it this far without tipping the shaky little canoe, but the old, familiar self-doubt is flooding his spirit, threatening to affect his ability to navigate the rocks and the rushing water ahead. The deceptively slow-moving canoe drifts around this hair pin in the mountain river and his teammate looks over his shoulder back at him, wearing a fearful smile. The river's growl has become a roar and the trees lining its banks begin rushing passed. The unrippled surface suddenly begins to shimmy and turn over on itself and the rocks approach as he plants his oar deep, guiding the canoe passed their granite hulks. A fallen tree bobs directly ahead and his teammate gestures and he plants the oar, again, automatically in a steerage around the jutting limbs of the soggy old oak. The river drops in a tricky twisting tumble of granite and water and he is in the shute using the oar instinctively to fend off hidden rocks and to shift the canoe's course to match the river’s path. And, all at once, before he is truly aware, they are back in calm water and his teammate is howling in triumph with his arms held high. pumping in excitement. The self-doubt recedes to a pin point in his mind and a new confidence begins to take its place. Without realizing it, in this roiling mountain river, the boy has taken a step toward the man he will become.
The north Georgia Mountains are carved and divided by hundreds of creeks and rivers, on which folks find solace and triumph each day. Be it navigating the white water, like the boy from Ridge Creek School, or catching a prize trout in a tree-shaded eddy, we can all find a sense of peace and connection to the natural world in these river pastimes.