Under a gray sky, we load the canoe onto the truck, choosing to believe the forecast: “becoming partly sunny.” But the gloomy weather suits my mood.
“You okay?” my husband asks.
“I feel sort of depressed,” I say.
The wind is sharp as we push off into the Manistee River and I wish I’d worn long underwear. On this late fall day, the water is low but the colors are high. Red and orange and yellow, the oaks and maples stand along the bluffs, shining with their own light.
“Let’s stop on that island for coffee,” Dick says, and we sit on a birch log to open the thermos. I hold the steaming cup close to my face and munch a piece of molasses cookie.
“No sun yet,” I say.
“I’m still glad we came,” he says.
Back in the canoe, I tie my bonnet under my chin. Around the next bend I see a brilliant red maple leaning far out over the river—the river that will eventually claim its life but now reflects its beauty. I want to have the courage to lean out over my death, I think. Over my life. To risk believing I am valuable and I belong. Right here, right now.
It’s mostly cloudy when we end our trip four hours later. As I look up, searching for blue, I feel a pleasant ache in my shoulders.
“How are you doing?” my husband asks.
“Gradual clearing,” I say.