Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. —Thoreau, Walden
My friend and I both agree: we have never seen the river so shallow as this year.
For the first time in as long as we can remember, certain rocks, previously hidden, are now visible, having risen Brigadoon-like from its watery depths. What was once the beginning of the sluice that diverted river current to power the turbines in the old mill is now clearly outlined by the sweep of river rock just west of the bridge, and the bases of the concrete abutments downstream are readily apparent where the old Tunxis bridge once spanned the gorge.
We dip and swing our paddles beneath the bright sun and faultless blue sky. The old blue wooden-ribbed boat glides silently through the clear water. Arrayed along the sandy river bottom, the last leaves of autumn are clearly visible, a patchwork of yellows and browns.
Shortly, we kick up a gaggle of six Canada geese. Their wide wings beat the air, lifting heavy bodies off the water’s surface in a cacophony of honks and splashes. In formation they fly upriver, then at the last moment diverge at the steel bridge, four birds ascending above, two below.
Gradually, we move upstream against the current; continually, it beckons us back; but still we force our way forward against the flow of water.
Scoured trees stand sentinel-like, guarding the brambled banks. Any number have been undone, strangled and broken by the ubiquitous yellow-orange bittersweet.
Eventually, we turn the canoe in a grand sweep and begin our descent, drifting downstream, no longer fighting the force of the current.
A red-shouldered hawk drops from its perch and silently disappears into the woods.
As the thin current carries the blue boat along through the mirror of blue sky, past the leafless trees, now stark in their late autumn nakedness, soundlessly we become one with the water and the overhead expanse, drifting through momentary lapses of time into the eternity that remains.