Waterwalk

It’s President’s Day, which means no school today! Sadly, the day will involve a lot more grading than cooking or reading, but at least I can post about what I have been reading the last couple weeks.

Mom gave me a book when I was home last summer. She had already told me about it on the phone, suggesting I look for it at the library, since the writer lived and taught in Virginia. I did, but somewhat halfheartedly – a book about a canoe trip didn’t seem too exciting to me. Instead, I read spy thrillers by Helen MacInnes and detective novels set in Botswana by Alexander McCall-Smith. (Both also recommended by Mom.)

But when I was back in Michigan in July, she gave me her copy of Waterwalk, assuring me I’d enjoy it.The front cover contained a picture of two guys in a canoe, both wearing life jackets. It boldly proclaimed in white letters – “Now a motion picture.” Not even a major motion picture, just a motion picture. But who really wants to read a whole book or watch a whole movie about a guy and his son on a canoe trip together? I mean, it might be good, but it didn’t sound very exciting to me.

I brought it back to Virginia and proceeded not to read it for the next six months. School started back up, and I didn’t have a lot of time to read anyway. Then I went back to MI at Christmas, and Mom gave me some more books. I forgot to take Waterwalk back, so when we got back home, I added the new books from Mom to the stack, leaving Waterwalk at the bottom. I read them within a few weeks, another Helen MacInnes and an adolescent novel called Diamond Ruby. I flew through both, so I figured I might as well give Waterwalk a try, since it was all I had left.

I started it one evening with low expectations. I was really tired and ready to go to bed, but I figured I’d get a few pages in. By page 50, I decided I really needed to go to bed, even though I  wanted to see where they were going to land the next day, what kind of weather they’d face, what they would cook over the fire for dinner that night. Mom was right again, as always.

So what is it about this book that captured me? It really is a book about a canoe trip, and how much can you say about a canoe trip besides what you saw and how hard you paddled and who you met and where you camped for the night. Well, apparently, a lot. To start with, this book chronicles a man’s journey to reconnect with his son – not his only son, or his oldest son, but one of his six kids, one that he feels he has lost touch with. The journey is literally that, a nine-week canoe trip recreating the trip Marquette and Joliet, the French missionary and explorer, had taken three hundred years earlier to discover the Mississippi River.

I haven’t had much time to read this week, so I haven’t finished yet. I left father and son on the Fox River in Wisconsin, not even to the Mississippi yet. I promise a more thorough review once I finish (and once I get another day off to actually have time to post about it!).

For now, this quote from Henry David Thoreau has stuck in my mind – “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.” Sadly, for so many of us, time is the stream we are racing down, trying to get to the ocean. Why? We’re not really sure, but we sure are missing a lot along the way, which the author of Waterwalk gets. I think I’d probably disagree with him about what exactly we’re missing, since the point of my journey is determined by Christ, which changes everything. Regardless, I can enjoy his observations on life and realize his admonition to slow down is what a lot of us need.

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