By Merisa Sherman
As I stood at the water’s edge, it felt like forever since I had been here. Between the rain and the rain and the rain, there have been pieces missing in my life this summer and, unfortunately, moments like this have been an enormous casualty. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed this moment until I stood in the darkness watching the sky turn a lighter shade of blue as it began the transition from night into day. The water was so still from the weight of the morning fog that I knew our upcoming paddle would be epically perfect. I took a deep breath to soak it all in and ugh, what was that smell?
There must have been some dead fish rotting on the water’s surface somewhere near the launch site, because I snapped out of my early morning haze pretty quickly. It was funny how I didn’t notice the stench as I unloaded my canoe in the darkness while I waited for my sunrise paddle companion to arrive. So instead of waiting for her, I quickly jumped into my canoe and moved away from the launch site and around the grass out into the lake. And just sat.
I was early. My alarm going off at 4:20 a.m. had literally launched me out of bed in complete surprise. Maybe it was because I changed my alarm ring the night before but more likely it was the complete lack of sunrises in my life since this summer began. It was pitch black inside the house and the only noise was the quiet rumble of the dehumidifier. I felt my way down the stairs, gliding my hand along the pine tongu-and-groove siding for balance until I made it to the gear room. The windows were completely fogged from the 99% humidity level. The combination of fog and darkness tricked my mind into believing we had gotten up way too early.
At the boat launch, I realized we had planned the morning perfectly, as the blue began to arc over the sky. Not the sunny blue that we would see an hour later, but an ethereal blue, one seen only by sailors and night watchmen. A strange blue where it is dark but light at the same time. Where you can almost feel the earth rotating on its access, the wave of day creeping slowly around the planet. It feels as though the blue is pushing away the storm of the night’s darkness, moving across the sky at such a slow pace you wonder how it is you even notice the change.
And then the blue turns into pink as the sun gets closer to the horizon, rising somewhere else that is just out of our line of sight. The pink invades the early morning sky, and we cannot help but stop paddling just to sit and gaze at the showcase of color. There is no one around on this early Saturday morning, no fishermen, no birds, no nothing. It is a quiet, heavy sky that seems to be keeping everyone in their beds. But as the pink arrives, so does life, and the world awakens as the sun rises higher behind the mountains.
Finally, the birds arrive and we watch as a trio of loons circles around and around. The bald eagle swoops about, claiming his territory and looking for breakfast. A heron flies overhead to relocate for the morning and the fish begin jumping while we paddle on the deathly still water. We are all waking up together. A loon takes off and we hear his cry as he lets the others know he’s off on an adventure.
Oh my goodness, how I needed this morning amongst nature. To not only be a quiet observer of all around me, but to be part of it. To break free from the anxiety of the world, to turn off my phone if only for an hour or two and remind myself that this is why I love living in Vermont: these peaceful moments of grounding, of reconnecting with the nature that surrounds us. And to think that it is so easy, so simple to take these moments for ourselves, to step away from the busy world and simply be part of the natural world.
As we pulled in to the shore and back to our real-world lives, I felt more centered, more free and more focused than I had in a long time. I was myself again, in control of my being rather than simply existing at the beck and call of the modern world. To match my breathing to the world rather than the scrolling of my thumb. So grateful for this Vermont fife.