Quillayute River, Olympic National Forest
Perfect 8:00pm sunset. A friendly camper lends us his canoe. Mirror water, tall pine reflections. A quiet stillness. Birds sing, echoing through the woods. A lone seal keeps its distance. He has cruised in from ocean, just under a mile down river. He watches us as we move downstream.
Along the shore, we spot big, brown furry bodies, jumping in and out of the water, hiding amongst the reeds. We wait. Anticipate what they might be. SLAP! SPLASH! THUD! A group of very intent beavers try to scare us away. But we hold strong. We belong here too, even if just for a few hours.
Above a big brown raptor swooshes down from the sky, talons reaching. He tries to capture a fish but comes up empty handed. He rests on a tall pine and tries again. As he flies overhead, we're astounded at his massive wingspan, and later realize he's a juvenile bald eagle. Pure grace. He skims the water again, but stops after a few tries, no salmon tonight. He rests, watching us cruise his river. Later a blue heron cruises by, eyes us, then flies on. Lines of baby ducks zip by in turbo-mode to get across the river. Tenacity. Perseverance all in a little body.
We paddle up and around an island. Get out to treasure hunt and skip rocks. Paddle back, led by the moon's reflection in the water. A perfect night. A night I don't want to end. One of those moments when you feel like you're somewhere almost too precious to see in person. A fleeting moment so sacred.
And I am thankful.