The canoe: a passive tale

It’s grammar week and this week’s WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge is all about the Passive Voice. This was trickier than it seemed.

Our day started early. We planned all the details and were full of anticipation: picnic lunch, sunscreen, sun hats, the route down a clean and meandering river, and finally the canoe.

red canoe at sundown

(Photo credit: lars hammar)

The canoe was a surprise gift. My grandfather gave us the canoe, passing along his passion for solitary pursuits and love of water. The canoe was almost 16 ft, had a gleaming cherry-red hull, and handled beautifully. The kevlar exterior with its special resin epoxy made it both durable and light enough that even my grandmother could carry it solo. She used to joke that it weighed the same as a bale of hay, but sat a little better on your shoulders. The gunwales had been so smoothly polished it was as though a thousand hands had wiped the wood to a shine.

It could slice through water effortlessly. Gliding on placid waters or over rapids, the canoe sat unexpectedly still. It held to the task at hand with such balance you could not help but feel confident in your own ability. I was not a canoeist by default. I was the one who tipped off a raft if it bumped into the dock, or fell through my inner tube if I forgot to pay attention. But in the canoe, this canoe, I felt natural. I was one of the Voyageurs.

I thought of my grandfather and his many journeys with this canoe. What places the canoe had been; the stories it could tell. The canoe had been through pounding rapids, easy river paddles, and even dangerously low water levels where it had scraped and fussed against the boulders on the river bottom. My grandfather was especially proud that day as the only damage was a few flakes of paint scraped away. The hull had been like a dragon on a ship’s stern, chasing away any harm. A new coat of paint hid any evidence of the denouement.

There were now more stories to create, stories of my own. Our own journey had begun as we sat in the quiet morning silence on the mesh seats, still balanced against the shore.  As we pushed off from shore I could almost imagine my grandfather waving, both to us and to the canoe.

Placing the canoe in the water we could almost hear its sigh. The joy of once again being in its natural state. I took my place at the back as the steersman. We pushed off into the current and dug in our paddles, feeling the canoe surge underneath us as our adventure began.

We looked out along the river and down its path. Navigating the waters was more than just looking at a map, you had to sense the water’s speed, the flow, the direction. The sound of the paddles knocking against the side, each stroke pulling us further along, was a comfort. I could trust the canoe as my grandfather had. The gentle bobbing brought us in touch with the water and made us feel close to its power. The canoe’s structure reminded us we were above the water, but also gave us that inner knowing that we could be in control of the water.

The canoe felt steady, quiet, and sure. Sitting atop the river, the river helped show us the way. But this cherry-red canoe was always our guide.


11 thoughts on “The canoe: a passive tale

Sharing is caring.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s