Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Following the Path





It was only 60 degrees and cloudy, but my adventurous sister Wendy and I decided to kayak up the Susquehanna to Hiawatha Island. Hiawatha Island used to have a swanky resort hotel that was reached by wealthy patrons ferried across the river. Later, in the early 1900s a farm was built on the island, with the advantage of no fences needed to keep the sheep on the grounds.

Though the water was cold, we managed to stay dry except for our feet when we waded in just a little to get in the inflatable kayaks. We skimmed upstream against a gentle current, passing scores of Great Blue Herons. There must be a rookery on the island. No one but us and the birds were on the Mighty Susquehanna that blustery day. It would have been perfect except that the river snakes alongside the busy interstate. Trucks rumbling and clanging past along with the dull roar of cars whizzing by distracted from the otherwise primeval setting.

We moored at the deserted island shore and hiked along a well kept path. Asherel and I had discovered the old outhouse and abandoned sheep farm on the last visit to my folks, but we hadn't had time to explore more. Wendy and I took many photos of the early 1900 farm house and rusted farm equipment on the grounds. We examined the carcass of a very old car, and finally found a faded plate that identified it as a Buick. We traveled on along the path and came to the ruins of an old milking barn. We were told the barn had been built from rafters of the old hotel. So we continued on the path, hoping to find the hotel site. We passed a large open grassy area that was labeled "Helipad." Now I doubt that was here in the 1800s!

So we were deep in discussion about what a heliport was doing on a deserted island when we heard a rustle and saw a whole flock of wild turkey rushing down the path before us. We put our cameras on 'shoot', and scurried after the turkeys. Wendy wondered about people hunting on the island, and I asked, a bit tremulously, "It isn't hunting season is it?"
She thought it was too early for that but I still wished I had been wearing something other than a tan outfit, just the color of a nice juicy deer.

The end of the path brought us to the other side of the island, where a little ferry was moored. We guessed that brought guests to the island...when they couldn't catch the helicopter. There were more paths that went up the island, but it was getting late and we had to get back. It had been far more exciting than we had thought it would be, and there were still unexplored trails. Somewhere on that island, a splendid hotel had once stood. We passed an old rusted bathtub on our way back to the kayaks. Sometime long ago, a wealthy patron from the 1800s had perhaps laid down in that tub, its porcelain white and unmarred.

I had almost nixed the whole kayaking idea. It was cold and cloudy, and the weather in upstate NY can turn in a moment. I am so glad that I let my sense of adventure win. Life should be an adventure. There should be a sense of mystery and wonder waiting around our corners. I think that may be why God only gives us glimpses of His presence, as He rustles in our peripheral vision like the flock of turkeys. It keeps us moving forward, looking with anticipation to the morning when we will follow a different trail to find the goal that seems to be just around the next tree.

Psalm 25:4-5,9,12 (NIV)
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. [5] Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. [9] He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. [12] Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.




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