The Day the Canoe Dumped Us

by: Joe Talhelm

The water was very smooth and clear. It was a beautiful day for canoeing. My wife & I had never been together in a canoe. Usually I went with friends, as my wife was really afraid of water. But today it was she and I. No one else around. It was a perfect day. we had our lunch with us packed nicely in plastic bags and tucked in our mini-coolers. For the first hour we enjoyed the sun, the peacefulness, the time together and just floating down the river. The birds were chirping as if to say 'Now you two have a great day together! You deserve this time together." The water was so clear you could see the minnows flitting from side to side. I can't say that my wife ever looked more beautiful with the sun casting it's rays on her pretty face. It was one of those days lovers dream about. If I stopped the story now we could end it by saying, 'and they lived happily ever after'. The perfect story book ending.

That is not how the story ended though.

Halfway through the 13 mile trip we hit some rapids that carried us through a very sharp turn in the water, before we knew it, the canoe had flipped, we had hit bottom and many of the items in the canoe were floating down the river in a fast pace. Stunned, we sat there in the shallow water wondering what to do. We were soaked to the bone and hurting from being dumped into this shallow area full of stones at the bottom of the water. What should we do? The canoe had created a suction when it flipped and was stuck, upside down, to the bottom of the river. We decided that the first thing to do was to get the canoe upright. When we got the canoe unstuck, what was left of our lunch, etc. went down the river with all the other stuff, including our paddles. Now what? I took off down the river bank in the direction of our stuff. I just had to get those paddles, without them we were "up a creek with no paddle". Well, it was no use. All I was able to retrieve were a few Tupperware containers with food in them. Everything else was lost. As I made my way back to where I had left my wife and canoe I looked for anything that I could use as a paddle. Anything. Finally I found this water-logged 2 by 12 board which was about 6 foot long and heavy with water.

Have you ever had a great day going and it looked like it was going to be a perfect day until your canoe got dumped? You know, all is well then someone dies. Or the day is going smoothly and boom, the washer or dryer just says, 'no more'. Or maybe it looks like you just might get ahead financially, for a change, then the car decides it needs a new water pump? You canoe has dumped you and ruined a perfectly great day. Now what do you do? Start looking for plan "B".

Back to the story, I came to the canoe where my wife is still soaking wet and not a happy camper. I came bearing two plastic containers and this huge water-logged hunk of wood. We got in the canoe and headed back on course but not as happy as we had been before. No food. No dry clothes. Two paddles lost (at about $20 each). Soaking and getting cold. Not many words were exchanged for the next few minutes, then we just laughed. we laughed at how silly I looked with that dumb board. How silly we both looked after being dumped by our canoe. The sun was still shining, the water still beautiful and it dawned on us, hey we were still having a good time. Maybe not the time we would have had, but still having a good time in spite of the little mishap. We began counting our blessings. We still had our canoe. We didn't get too badly hurt. We still had a little food left. It was still a pretty day outside and we had each other.

So here is what you should do the next time your canoe dumps you. Look around and see what is good about your situation. Start counting your blessings. Begin looking at what you still have going for you. God will make that mishap into something good. He will make lemonade out of the lemons in your life. He will help you to see that all isn't as bad as it could be. And you just might be able to finish out that day with a smile on your face.

We still smile about that day. The day when our canoe dumped us.