Sun rays in the middle of forestLooking up at the tall pines, the clear sunlight glimmered on the pine needles, shimmering them like jewels. The sky was a vibrant crisp blue, and the water made the slightest sound as our paddles pulled through the glassy surface.

My daughter exclaimed over the lily flowers along the river’s edges. The children insisted on pulling our kayaks into sandy banks to wade in the water.

Throwing life jackets and flip-flops into the boats, they parted the water with their hands, dipped their heads back into the cool.

For me, powering at the back of the tandem kayak, with my little guy seated comfortably, serenely, in front of me, I did what I came to do: enjoy the day, breathe in the many-scented air, paddle into peace with the three people I love the most in this world.

KayakersI’d written on my calendar many weeks ago that today, the kids and I would spend kayaking at the boat launch where we were supposed to gather for Shaya’s birthday. But when that late May day was cold and rainy, we opted for a makeshift art-and-candy party at home.

That’s ok because it is simpler and easier to enjoy with just the four of us. Even though my lovely girl protested and wanted to stay home, when she found the lily flowers, all was good. My eldest wanted to paddle until we reached the dam, but then his sister’s attention span has always been shorter.

At a certain point, I decided it was ok to turn around. As a parent, you please some and disappoint others and sometimes, you disappoint everyone. It can be a lonely place to be a parent.

She wants to go back, he wants to press on, the youngest is content, coddled in Mom’s kayak. Personalities pinging one another, and the day continued to be beautiful.

I could hear insects in the reeds. Tiny flies flitted on the water’s surface. Turtles swam at the edges, as did small fish. And the minnows around our feet, so many little fish!

Water lilyThe river was alive and teeming. The vegetation plentiful, the trees immense, long stretches of riverbank devoid of human life, so incredibly beautiful.

When my daughter lamented that she and I don’t often love the same things, I had to sigh. Yes, I love taking them on hikes and into nature, because I love being there myself.

But we both loved the lilies. Even amidst the hard effort of kayaking, of paddling against the current only to coast back on the current stream, we both noticed the flowers sprouting from the teeming river and we stopped to exclaim over it together.

The absolute perfection, even better when untouched by us. To gaze, to observe, to witness the sheer beauty of this world – I am often left spellbound, speechless, in rapture and in love.

Enticed by the entire world.

We kayaked back, left our paddles at the launch. We drove along the winding country roads to a charming town full of restaurants, starving for lunch.

But even then, the meal fell flat. Nothing manmade can compare to what is glorious in nature. We can try and surely we do, but we never come close.

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