At the end of a long day, there’s nothing better than to pick up a paddle and drift on water. A friend invited me to join her for kayaking. The moment we pushed off the shore we felt the stresses of the day drown in our wake.    

I like returning to the same place because it is different every time. In the past I have seen rafts of turtles lined up on a log, a pair of Canada geese with their eight goslings fluffed out along the bank, and kingfishers darting to the water and back to the top of a dead tree. My friend has told me of beavers, but until yesterday I never saw one.

We were paddling along through an opening among tall grasses when off to my right I caught site of something brown and furry. There was a sliver of path leading to a small pool. A very large beaver was circling in it, his head almost the size of a football. Part of his back exposed a beautiful furry pelt. He stayed long enough for my friend to see before diving. He reemerged two feet from our kayaks. We watched him swim out to the main river and disappear.

When an animal crosses my path, I like to look up its symbolism. Beavers represent creativity and collaboration. They remind us to work together and to act on our dreams. They also have really soft fur!

What symbols do you see today?

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16 Responses to Interlude

  1. jill says:

    A red tail hawk…wonder if its the same one I saw a few months ago just about in Kennebunk from i95… circling around. I looked up the symbolism… I will enclose the link; but this struck out at me…”The path may be to grow your own self-esteem so that you have the courage to be vulnerable with those around you. Graccia helped me open up and connect with those around me in a profound way, helping me see my tribe wherever I go now. Another opportunity may be to go out and risk making new friends and trying new things. With the image of your tribe to guide you, you will know your people when you meet them.” Very fitting for me right now; this year. Here is the link-

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I love the connection between red-tailed hawk and self-esteem! We have one that lives in our valley. Now I understand why! Thank you!

  2. Jody Harrow says:

    Such a timely post Eileen. Just this morning after seeing a video by Bjarke Ingels – a 40 year old who is rocking the world of architecture, I was thinking of missed opportunities because in the past I didn’t see the value of working in teams. I am so ready for a change!

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      It’s not that teams are without their challenges, but the result of multiple minds and hearts working together is not only a better product, but the start of community. I wish you well.

  3. Hi Eileen, lovely and so long… I have never been kyacking, but my sister’s entire family are heavy duty kyackers– so Harvardy, as the Davids in your family know !! I jumped with glee last year, when I heard that LL Bean was holding free kyack lessons on the Charles River in Dedham, MA, my old historic hometown. Fun fun, I thought and I called my brother and his family to convey the ad. “Oh, I know,” he said, knowingly. So, I shed a tear wishing I lived near to all of my siblings. Once, when I was telling my mother on one of our walks that I missed the family, she said I think that grey house might be available, “That is the Chase house. Chase owns that house,” I said to her many years back before my kids were born and my husband and I were “fast tracking” our life in NYC jobs. Now, I wonder if J.P.Morgan/Chase owns the house and if it is, still, available? Also, I wonder, if my husband and I will soon be employed, again? wonder of wonders, miracles of miracles…Glad you had a nice evening kyacking, seeing the geese, beaver and all that your camera captured…

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      If you want to start kayaking, best to go with the friend who already has one, and choose a calm day. It’s truly relaxing. I highly recommend it!

  4. Richard Trenner says:

    I love kayaking, too. I think everyone who’s ever gone kayaking probably does. It’s as close to being a dragonfly on a pond as you can get.

    I was in a canoe (first cousin to a kayak?) years ago, kind of drifting in the lovely, narrow passage between Eagle Lake and Utowana Lake in the Adirondacks, when I saw a black bear and a cub on the shore. That was on the same day (or maybe the same week) that I read a poem by Kathleen Raine. The poem and the bears are permanently connected.

    Here’s the poem (sorry, without the verse breaks):

    “Never, never again This moment, never, those slow ripples across smooth water, Never again these clouds white and gray…. The sun that rose from the sea this morning will never return for the broadcast light that brightens the leaves and glances on water will travel tonight on its long journey, out of the universe, never this sun, this world, and never again this watcher.” Kathleen Raine

    So, to me, bears are a way to remember that each moment is, well, like a snowflake: unique, beautiful (of course, some are not), and destined to melt into flowing water and then return to the sky. And then fall back to earth again sometime. Time passes. And time goes on.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I love that poem. Did you know that bears also represent nurturance and caregiving? They represent the mother in some traditions. You were lucky to see one. I just returned from hiking in the Adirondacks. What a magical place.

      • Richard Trenner says:

        I didn’t know that about bears. Thanks for that. What you say about bears’ representing the mother in some traditions reminds me of something….

        My older son Miles, now 24 and living 2,400 from home, had as his very favorite stuffed animal a polar bear. He called it “Po-bear.” The very day Miles received the bear as a present—some friends had driven out from the city to see our first child and had come BEARing gifts—my mother died suddenly in her house overlooking the sea in New England. Evern since then, whenever I’e seen Po-bear, I’ve also “seen” my mother…. And when I was little—we were living in Uppsala, Sweden not long after the war, and toys were as scarce as cars back then and back there—my brother and sisters and I were taken to a toy store one day and each of us was allowed to choose a stuffed animal. I chose “Pinky Bear.” Well, Pinky Bear, now a senior citizen, is still living with me (atop a pile of books). He has survived several surgeries, including an emergency reattachment of his head….

        The moral of the story: So many objects become personal symbols—of people, places, and times past. It’s part of the (ordinary) magic of living.

  5. john lyden says:

    My great love of water was to row for the Harvard Eliot House Boat Club crew in 1960 and 1961 at the Henley Regatta in England. The Regatta was televised on U Tube this weekend live with shots overhead by a drone camera. What a magnificent demonstration of teamwork in a regal pastoral setting. Although we did not emerge victorious is was a thrill of a lifetime. If one is interested at all in rowing a boat– even your old dingy check the videos out.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I would have given anything to have been on a crew team John. Unfortunately, Middlebury didn’t have one at the time. I envy you the opportunity. I’ll have to look for you in the YouTube piece!

    • Richard Trenner says:

      You most have known Dick Keyes ’62! He was in Dunster House, rowed for Harvard, and almost made it to the Olympics. A very good guy and a clergyman, still based in Massachusetts.

  6. My magical interlude this morning was to watch a chubby Anna’s Hummingbird, who perched on top of my feeder simply resting and looking into space. He was totally relaxed not moving his head from left to right looking for predators…he was peaceful and secure and brought a smile of delight to my face and to my soul! The Hummingbird is a totem of fearlessness, and represents symbols of joy, Lightness of Being, and Enthusiasm.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      May you bring more of your hummingbird energy to light, Louise! You have so much already!

  7. joan says:

    Hi Eileen, Your photo of your kayak, seemingly heading for a wooded, hidden, secret location that few have visited, was stunningly beautiful, stopping me in my tracks . . . letting my mind drift. . and I must thank you for sharing such beauty with us.

    The wonder of kayaking is so easily learned. . and I find drifting in still waters allows the creatures of nature to feel unfrightened, free to go about their lives while we sit in awe. Early one morning in May, we kayaked in the Pacific, out in California’s Monterey Bay, drifting among a myriad of sea otters – lounging on their backs without a care in the world – while seals would pop up to – well, greet us – their visitors. In Antarctica as well, the opportunities to silently drift between icebergs . . as penguins, dressed in black and white, looking like waiting headwaiters, oogled us as much as we were in awe of being so up close and personal. Symbols? Eileen, I would say, instead, that all of the wonders of nature we see in our lifetimes are evidence of the gifts that we have been given, that our eyes will open and – that will uplift us into another world and give us joy.

  8. eileenrockefeller says:

    Yes to the gifts we have been given Joan. Thanks for reminding us to look 360 degrees around us. Gifts are everywhere for the seeing. Lovely thought to start my day with. Thank you.

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