Mile 603 on Upper Mississippi two bends north of Rosedale, Mississippi – November 28, 2012
The sun slid down against an impossibly clear sky. Not a single cloud waited to catch bright edges of light or send rays streaking up, just color fading from orange to blue to black around a red disc sinking on the horizon.
I floated in the middle of the river, all alone, quiet, feeling decadent with my moment of solitude between barges.
The water turned pink to match the sky, the brilliance split only by a band of black trees along a distant bend. I forget about the wingdams and riprap banks, the barges and loading docks, the buoys and navigation lights, the constant reminders that the river is no longer its own.
It’s a construct, a Frankenstein, a manufactured avenue. Even in the darkness of sunset you can see it if you look, but I try not to.
At least I can pretend sometimes.
I caught a glowing light out of the corner of my eye and turned, expecting to see a tugboat, ready to paddle like mad toward a bank. Instead the golden face of a full moon cut through the treetops, mirroring the setting sun, delicate against the fading light on the opposite horizon.
I didn’t know where to look, so I spun and floated and spun some more, colors soaking my eyes as I watched one side fall while the other rose, watched day give way to night.
Then a blinking light slid around a far bend. A tugboat’s spotlight glowed behind it. An engine shook in the distance. I beached the kayak and set up camp, watching tug after tug plow past under a full moon.