This past weekend, my husband and I were lucky enough to be in the Adirondacks (yes, again!) to spend the last days of summer. Glorious weather. Magnificent mountain scenery. Cool evenings with just a hint of breeze coming in the wide open windows. No bugs. Some of the most beautiful unspoiled lakefront expanse anywhere.
It was our canoe trip to the Upper Ausable Lake that made me think about our marriage and how fortunate I am. To be precise, it was not a canoe. It was an Adirondacks guide boat. They are magnificent structures, made of wood, wider than a traditional canoe, and powered by oars fixed in oar locks, as opposed to paddles. Once you get the hang of rowing a guide boat, you appreciate its balance, and its smooth glide through the water.
So there we were, my husband and I. The trip to the Upper Lake takes about an hour of leisurely rowing. Same for the return.
And you are in the middle of nowhere, not a sound but for the occasional lapping of soft waves against the boat. It was exceedingly calm, the sun was bright and it was just the two of us. We saw maybe three or four other guide boats and a couple of canoes on the entire trip. And they were a distance away.
Some of the time we were silent, each of us taking in the sheer pleasure of the day, away from cell phones and other distractions. But for much of the trip we talked. About our kids, about work, about memories, about future plans.
And that's when it struck me. Marriage is a lot like a boat for two. If you've got the right craft, it is easy to balance, though unexpected bad weather and rough waters make that difficult at times, sometimes even threatening to capsize. And in the end, although there are many other things that vie for your attention, it's the two of you in the world, making your life.
We found we had lots to talk about as we glided through the water. Yet we were content to enjoy the silences, too. Have you ever pulled up next to another car in traffic, and seen a couple sitting in the front seat, each staring ahead in what looks like a silence that has gone on a long time? Or seen a couple in a restaurant who seem to have little to say to one another? That wasn't us.
I rowed us back. And I realized I didn't want it to end, didn't want to pull up to the dock and reenter the real world, where there would be much less opportunity to enjoy each other's company without distraction. Fewer opportunities for free-wheeling conversation with no arguments. No points to be made. Just the lovely exchange of thoughts and feelings between two people who enjoy each other.
What a special way to end summer, 2012.