Each dip of the paddle into the crystalline waters of this arctic river sends droplets of melting ice to my cheeks, the frost of frozen air crowding on my eye lashes. My feet rest against this bottom of the humble vessel of wood and metal, the grains within the boards highlighted with white, icy trails. It is silent, absolutely silent but for the trickle of the paddle against the current, the crackle of the prow through the stiffening glassy surface.
But even the silence seems to have a shimmer to it – a muted, matte buzz against the electrically charged air. So much anticipation lingers in the clouds, so much potential energy forced into static motion. My fingers bite into the wooden oars. The white of my frozen skin; numb to the biting breeze from my forward propulsion. It’s too cold for my breath to linger as steam. Too cold for snow to fall. For the blood to pump through my chest.
This was my favorite time to play in the wilds. When all others were too attached to the warmth of their hearths. Out here, alone, gliding through slush filled waters, I could hear the earth moan under her white blanket and watch the slowing of time. Each overburdened tree limb would gently slide off it’s white coat of powder and plop it into the ruins of coats at its roots. The river pulls so much harder away from where we used to spend our evenings admiring the trail of stars above us. It pulls so much harder without you here to tug against the pull with me.
I waited all year to get to the winter thinking it would resurrect your memory, but where I sought to find relief I found the freezing of my body. A chill you never let me feel. Without you here, winter simply became just another season. And I am left sitting still in frozen waters.