Thursday, December 27, 2012


(being part of an adventure story)

Splashing in the shallows, the man guided his canoe out from the oozing of
Round Springs and into the main flow.  He leapt into the stern and began to
paddle. Dip and draw, dip and draw...  Down this stream of inevitability, the
current moved him.  He was not sure if he was standing still and the landscape
was moving or if he was the one going by it.  Down the river of life.  Was
each stroke of his paddle pulling the shores upstream?

He soon lost his ability to reason logically.  All sounds, all sights, all
smells, the feel of the spruce sure in his hands, all seemed to merge into
one.  He felt now that he was on a different journey than the one he had
started out on.  A journey not only forward into space and time but also
backwards to the Current River of his youth. A journey into itself.  The
Current was the play, not his paddling.  He was not even the actor but rather
the observer.  So this is what they mean by the observer changing that which
he observes, he mused.  He was changing the outcome of the experiment with
every stroke.  The result of each stroke was different sights, different
sounds, and even different smells.  The feel of the air and the spray from his
paddling varied with the speed and strength of his paddling.

Suddenly, something radically new forcefully inserted itself into this
experiment, this journey.  It seemed to his reveried mind, and then to his
very Self, that there was a dull roaring sound off in the future.  This roar
was becoming gradually louder.  The current seemed to be getting stronger,
faster as if it existed independently of his mind, of his consciousness.  Does
a tree make a sound if no one hears it fall in the forest?  Apparently so as
he had to adjust his paddling continuously to compensate.  It was only then
that he noticed the Springtime waters had risen outside their normal banks. 
Many trees normally not in the water were now easing into the depths of the

He would have to stay more alert to this...reality.  But, what did that mean? 
This reality.  What would happen if he did not disengage from one journey to
travel on this new one?  Was he ever even "travelling" or was it, and
everything else, all in his head.  What was it that caused him to even react
to these new sounds and sights?  Would he ever be able to continue the other
journey if he made this switch fully?  Regardless of his thinking, his
conscious self - what he conceived of as his self - was pulled into this new
reality by forces unknown and unbidden.  The switch was being made for him
regardless of any action on his part.

The roar was now upon him.  He could see the white horses of the rapids up
ahead and the water spray rising feet into the air.  The sounds became
deafening.  The landscape up ahead, past the whitewater, seemed to be much
lower than that he had been travelling in before.  His natural abilities
steered the canoe towards the longest downward-pointing "Vee" in the rapids. 
He automatically sped up the canoe to be travelling faster than the current
but, being only one man, this was in vain.  Oh bowman!  Where did you go?  Did
you ever even exist?

Suddenly, out of the fog, an old wooden ferry appeared.  Seeing no boatman, he
put his two coppers away and turned the bow to point behind the ferry's
course.  Then he saw the thick rope strung across the river on which the
ferry, attached, could cross back and forth using the current by simply
adjusting the angle of approach.  A diminuitive figure could be seen now
huddling near the rudder, attempting to hide from the heavy, damp evening air.
 The ferry connected two gravel roads on either side of the Current.  Just
before passing the ferry, he noticed a branch of the river rushing into and
adding volume to the stream.

He remembered now the name of this branch and the name of the ferry.  Jack's
Fork.  Soon now, he should be drawing abeam of an old abandoned cabin.  Many a
night had he and his companions spent warming up to the cabin's old iron pot-
bellied stove.  They had called this Maloney's Cabin.  It was complete with
its own bat-filled cave.

He steered the canoe over to the left bank and beached the canoe on a
convenient sand bar, tieing it off against the current to some old pile of
driftwood.  He then grabbed his gear and headed up the bank towards the cabin.
 He moved excitedly ahead, imagining the warmth and dryness of the cabin. 
Perhaps he would get the old washtub out and heat up some hot water on the
stove for a bath, just like in the old days.  Just then the dripping air was
torn asunder by a ightning strike so close the hairs on his arms and face
stood up.  A torrential downpour began and the man quickened his pace towards
the cabin.  But, the faster he ran the farther away the cabin seemed to get! 
It was as if he was wading thru molasses.  Finally, the cabin was lost to his
sight and he was enveloped in a fog so thick you could cut it with a paddle. 
The ground turned to deep mud in the heavy rain and he turned around to head
back toward his canoe.

Sliding down the river's edge, he grabbed the canoe and overturned it,
propping it up with some of the driftwood.  Then, into his make-shift shelter
he ducked, only partially hidden from the wind-whipped rain.  He was shivering
and shaking mightily as the suddenly cold wind knifed through his soaked
clothes.  No fire possible in this weather, he huddled as best as he could to
try and get warmer.  This reminded him of a similar circumstance when he and
eight other Boy Scouts got lost in Blair Creek Cave.

This cave was just a little distance downstream and up on the bluff south of
the Creek near the confluence of the two streams. They had lost their way in a
complex maze and became separated from their Scoutmaster and the rest of the
Troop.  Realizing they were lost, their training kicked in and they stopped
crawling around.  They chose one spot to stay in until they were found by
rescuers.  Soon, the cold from the cave, their damp clothing and their
inactivity began to set in.  They decided to huddle in a group of 3 layers of
3 people.  They would rotate the bottom layer when the load became too much to
bear.  For 14 long hours they waited to be found.  At last they heard voices
and suddenly a face appeared over their heads.  The University of Rolla Caving
Club had found them and began to guide them out back to the surface.  However,
they ended coming out of an entirely different entrance!  Apparently, they
were the first ones to ever connect what had been thought of as two separate
caves.  At least something constructive was accomplished!

Another nearby bolt of lightning jolted the man awake from his dream.  Or, was
he still asleep?  Had the last few hours since the rapids all been a dream? 
Was he still there, stuck submerged in the branches?  Was he dead and this was
the afterlife?  If so, this was Purgatory at best!  Perhaps the entire trip
was a dream.  It might be argued that everything before the trip was the dream
and the trip was reality.

mindbringer, 26 December 2012