Column, Living the Dream

Floating forward on secret serenity

By Merissa Sherman

I was at a bonfire party, staring at the beautiful clear sky. The stars were starting to come out, just a little twinkling and the wind had noticeably evaporated. It was weird, and almost unnoticeable except for the fact that the wind hadn’t stopped roaring for the entire month of April. And here it was, the last few hours and you could almost feel the wind withdrawing. The clouds were evaporating in the sky and everything just seemed peaceful. The April winds were leaving us, the sky was clear and … wait a minute, I thought to myself, I bet the sunrise is going to be epic in the morning.

By Merisa Sherman
Paddling on Kent Pond in Killington when glassy is serene.

And so my mind began to churn and I texted a girlfriend of mine one word: Sunrise. Without any further explanation, she texted back a time — 5:43.  Without any more communication, we had scheduled to meet at the Kent Pond boat launch for sunrise. Of course, I wasn’t home or prepared or even sober. Maybe that’s why I was so keen on launching my canoe in the darkness to watch the sun pop up over the mountains. But I could tell that tomorrow morning was going to be a moment not to miss.

4:45 a.m. is when my alarm went off. Let me repeat that: 4:45 a.m. It would have been more brutal, but I had only gotten into bed at 2:45 a.m. so it really just felt like a nice little nap. You see, the Joshua Tree was playing at a private party in town and I didn’t want to miss that either. And so I burned the candle on both ends and found greatness on either side. The show was amazing and the morning, well, it was the absolute perfect way to start the month of May.

Except, have you ever tried strapping your canoe onto your car in the darkness when you’re not quite … rested? The straps didn’t throw over right the first time, getting stuck between my ski box and the boat itself so I had to climb under my canoe and over my car like an octopus. Except that I only have two arms and I cannot actually squish myself through anything. I hit my head on the gunnel — twice — where it makes that echoing across the valley sound that probably woke up every bird in a two-mile radius.

But finally, I had everything loaded and my boat strapped down. I couldn’t find my own headlamp, so I snuck the boyfriend’s from his top shelf with the realization that he would never find out because I would be back well before the time he rolled out of bed on a Sunday morning after a gig. I had my pompom hat on and my light winter paddling gear — it was 28 degrees when I woke up so I figured it would be above freezing by the time we actually launched. And that’s why I made the incorrect choice to leave my gloves in the car.

It’s so quiet and calm and glorious. At first. Then there was this one Canadian goose that was obviously not a morning animal. Instead, he was a freaked out goose who would not shut up until we paddled so far away from him we had traversed the whole pond. There wasn’t a nesting goose anywhere; he was just a jerk who wanted to wake up the entire neighborhood with his frantic honking.

And so they awoke. The ducks, the osprey and even the bald eagle came out for a spin around the pond. It was awesome. All the birds, happy with the calm waters for once, relaxed and swimming around.  Even the loons came out of hiding for a bit to enjoy the beautiful water. It was a reunion of sorts. They remembered our boats from previous years, knew we weren’t there to bother them and so they went about their business. It was the morning that we wanted — or needed — or both.

We had timed it perfectly. Just as we reached the halfway point around the pond and my hands were beginning to stiffen from the cold, the sun crested over the mountains and warmed us to our very souls. Talking stopped in our boats and we just sat there and took it all in. The beauty, the warmth, the simplicity of it all. After a winter of chairlift motors and snow guns, it was wonderful to enjoy the simple peace of birds chirping and the glow of the mountains around us. There is something mystical about Kent Pond, right in the middle of town, that makes it feel like our own secret garden. A secret serenity, a noble moment of peace and a fresh sense of renewal. Life floating forward, as it always has been and always shall be. You know, just a regular day in the state of Vermont.

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