I pushed off into the cool night air, cutting a clean slice with the bow. As I left the protective waters of the harbor, a wild animal-like alertness tingled across every nerve. From land the lake had seemed calm, glasslike. Sitting on top of it, separated by a thin hull of aluminum, I felt as though I were balancing on the belly of a very large, sleeping beast. With each breath, a quiet, tremendous force pushed me higher, then moments later set me down. Gentle and massive. I paddled further out – the same unexplained curiosity that dares a child to touch his tongue against metal on an icy January morning – and dipped the paddle into the rich cobalt water. Then again. And again. For many minutes I pushed further into the deepening night. Good sense finally took charge and I stopped paddling and looked back. I could see the shore, but not well. I felt the beast take a deep breath. In the stillness my little canoe rose many feet, then just as quickly fell. Another breath, and back down again.
This time I noticed that as I rode into a deep trough I completely lost sight of land. Very much alive, and humbled, I carefully turned the little craft at a right angle to the next wave coming my way, and paddled towards the island.
Back in the arms of the cove I turned around and looked back. The lake took another breath, rose up, then easily pushed me the last few feet to shore.