I loved camping when I was a kid. My family went all over Canada, New York, and Pennsylvania. My dad was intent on finding the most isolated places to pitch our tent, and I have lots of stories about our (mis)adventures along the way.
One of my favorite memories is how my dad used to pick me up in my sleeping bag and tuck me into the canoe before anyone else was awake. I woke up to the quiet dip and drip of the paddle and cool mist on my face while the water slid beneath us in a soft, metallic slither of fading dreams.
I loved this. I loved waking up on water. I loved waking up with the frogs and birds. I loved the fact that my father chose to take me with him instead of my siblings. I happily helped him catch breakfast, and enjoyed coming back to the campfire where Mom was making coffee and eggs. I still love fried eggs and fish for breakfast.
Seeing my dad paddle in the mist was something I knew in that moment I would remember. I experienced it as fully as I could. I paid attention to the cool beads of mist on my cheeks, the call of the first bird across the lake, that drip, drip of the paddle before it sliced into the water for another stroke, the force of each stroke shooting us forward then slowly fading before the next stroke. The warmth of my sleeping bag and the peaceful expression on Dad's face gave me ultimate security.
My dad died young, our family quit camping, and home wasn't peaceful, but I'm left with a memory that matters. It was a perfect moment in the paddle's water drops and beads of Canadian mist.