I was impressed with the strength of my diminutive guide as we loaded the kayak on top of the Toyota. Not more than five foot three and a hundred and ten pounds she lifted her end of the kayak easily above her head and on top of an already loaded paddle board.
We strapped them down tight and pioneered to Putah Creek just north of Sacramento. Being from Missouri my picture of a creek was about 12 feet across. We arrived and parked the SUV head first into the brush on the side of the road. I turned and saw what looked to me more a small river lined with a marsh.
I imagined the baby Moses in the reeds near the shore as we carried the kayak to the bank. It was steep but a fine steward of the planet had staked a slice of old carpet on the hill to aid the footing. It was quite appreciated as my flip flops clung to my toes and fishtailed under my heels. Stooping in a squatted form we ferried the boat down the slope.
My guide who was clearly comfortable as captain ordered me to hold at the edge while she climbed the hill to retrieve the paddle board on her own. I felt a bit unset for my person was accustomed to performing the heavy lifting in the company of the fairer sex. Still as a good sailor I followed orders and held my place beside the water while maintaining the company of the kayak.
On her return she charged me to step into the brink, lean with arms straddling the sides of my plastic craft and step in. I will confess that my masculine pride was quite relived as I slid easily into the seat. It is amazing how when you follow directions things seem to work out. I could have easily survived a dunk in the shallow water but my ego would have drown.
My oars splashed quietly on launch and I was followed by my leader to the center of the stream. She stood with prowess on her board stirring a long paddle to propel producing small wake. We glided above a carpet of dark green tentacles resembling underwater willows who waived longingly as we disturbed the water above their heads.
The glow of a full moon was the advertised entertainment but dusk on the Putah delivered an engaging opening act of God’s water creatures. We passed a small batch of large black Canadian geese who insulted by our presence, dunked their heads deep in the water to moon us with their feathered behinds.
A blue heron fished from an anchored log with skill. He would stare with focus and then dive with speed resurfacing with a fish in the beak that was promptly swallowed. I watched the majestic bird shake the prey down his long neck that would expand to the shape of the fish all the way to his belly. Then he would draw a long drink from the creek and regain his watch. As we paddled close he squawked in complaint and gracefully flew away a mans height above the water.
It was a serene sail yet occasionally the quiet would be broken by the warning clap of a beaver distrusting our fleet.
My guide was an accomplished host as she called a pause and opened a bag she had balanced on her board exposing a sampler of cheeses and meats to wrap in crackers. A rich California Cabernet poised seductively on her board eager to uncork. What a delight for a reluctant bachelor to float a humble boat on a moonlight dinner cruise. My lovely friend had surrendered an extravagant feast with the slightest conflict. Wish they all could be California girls.
We encored the banquet balancing our goblets while chasing the moon as it would peak in and out of the tall woods. Amongst casual sips we strolled the brook feasting our eyes on the man in the moon. The strains of life melted as the wine tickled our spirits and the natural beauty engulfed us with calm.
Had our bladders been younger I suppose we could have put the moon to bed on that tiny river but all great stories have an end and nature bid us goodnight as we quietly sought the shore. Like my friend the blue heron I took one more long drink of the moonlight’s reflection on the water and mused the magnificence of creation.
From my perception our two boats sailed the Putah alone that night, fortunate for our crew but a loss for the many who spent that eve under the blue light of Hollywood stead the glow a celestial moon. I love my life.