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Kristy paddling our new canoe in Florida at sunrise

Stepping Into Our New Canoe

Kristy Dodson
Kristy Dodson

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When we first head to the water, I have an overwhelming feeling that something is going to go terribly wrong. While this thought often confronts me, I know not to listen. This is what my mind does any time I do something out of the everyday routine. Stepping into our new canoe was no different. I denied the thoughts of trouble and the reward was welcomed.

A white truck parked by the riverside with a new canoe on racks above the cab.
Photo by Kristy Dodson
Arriving at sunrise ready to step into our new canoe.
Kristy pulling our new canoe out of the water at the boat ramp.
Our new canoe on its first trip down the river.
Sunrise on the Withlacoochee River in Yankeetown Florida.
Photo by Kristy Dodson
Sunrise on the Withlacoochee River

Excitement Mingled With Fear

Having our first canoe experience was like a replay of our very first kayaking trip. Anticipation and concerns were all mingled together. We have been kayaking for several years and still that nagging fear tries to take over, but I know to step towards the water convinced that something magical and unexpected will happen. That is what came about after stepping into our new canoe.

Stepping into our new canoe at the Withlacoochee boat ramp in Florida.
Photo by Kristy Dodson
Time to step into our new canoe and get rid of any made-up crazy scenarios of tipping over and meeting the alligators.

Launching Our New Canoe

Long before we get to the water, I begin to plan what I will look for and which route we will take. In my mind, this is just good water safety and helps me organize my backpack. On this particular day, we planned to canoe downstream on the Withlacoochee River. We would launch our canoe from the Yankeetown Boat Ramp and be on the water at sunrise to begin our search for wildlife. Today’s goal was to photograph birds and be on the constant lookout for manatees. We have seen all of this before so I felt convinced of our plans.

The front of our new canoe as we paddle down the river at sunrise.
Photo by Kristy Dodson
Canoeing down a Withlacoochee River canal.

The World Tucked Away

What we experienced within 15 minutes of being on the river reminded me to expect something magical and always have my camera ready. The fog was still rising on the water. The only sounds were the songs and movements of birds alongside the swishing of water across our paddles. This is my favorite time of day. The world is still tucked away, I can think clearly and take a few deep breaths.

Two old ships on the side of the Withlacoochee river at sunrise.
Photo by Kristy Dodson
The river is quiet at sunrise…the best time to be on the water.
An alligator rest under the rocks on the side of the river.
Photo by Kristy Dodson
Hopefully, he continues to stay tucked away.

Something Magical From Our New Canoe

Realizing that something was restless in the trees around us, I quickly snapped out of my peaceful zone and began fumbling for my phone and camera. All the while, careful not to rock the canoe too much since I really am still a bit nervous (after all…I understand that gators live in this water! I have seen them!) We both become captivated by the sound coming from the trees. My innate thought was that it was an unusual bird that we were hearing, but we soon realized it was something we had never seen or heard while on the river…it was numerous barred owls. They were chanting from one side of the river to the other. I did my best to get a recording. This was the “something magical” that the river gave us today.

Video by Kristy Dodson
The sounds of the barred owls on the Withlacoochee River. Yankeetown, Florida

Captured The Shot From The Canoe

Once I knew I had the sound captured I tried for a photograph. This was difficult from the canoe but good or bad, I was taking pictures.  If you’ve ever captured a beautiful creature in their habitat with your camera, you know how addicting it can be. It wasn’t until we were home, and I uploaded my photos that I realized I actually captured one of the owls in my lens. Good, bad, or terrible, it doesn’t matter. I got the shot!

Photo by Kristy Dodson
Barred Owl on the Withlacoochee River at sunrise

A Plan Already In Place

I set out that morning hoping to see a few birds while trying out our new canoe. Thankfully, there was a very different plan already in place for my day. Stepping into our new canoe, I was nervous but full of anticipation for seeing something beautiful, and as always, God did not disappoint. 

Four black birds sitting on a rock in the middle of the river as the sun rises.
Photo by Kristy Dodson

Beauty and Grace

I’ve come to realize that my worry is within me. The world is not one disaster just waiting on me to round the corner. To fully embrace the life that is available I have to work hard to remove my worries by allowing God to fill this space with beauty and grace.

Photo by Kristy Dodson
The river at sunrise.

We don’t get to make up the way this world works, because we aren’t living in a world we made- we are living in the Way Maker’s world.

Ann Voskamp, Author of Waymaker: Finding the Way to the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of

Just a Reflection

This mental struggle is not too different from the birds who are startled by their image on the water’s surface. What they fear is really a reflection, not an enemy. I’m working on these mingled thoughts and fears; even when stepping into our new canoe.

A river bird seeing its reflection and flying away from the rivers edge.
Photo by Kristy Dodson

Simply Stepping Into Our Canoe

The next time I set out to do something new, I’ll remember this moment. That overwhelming feeling of something going wrong is just a lie. Life will always have its difficulties, but along with it comes amazing beauty. The unexpected is often the best gift. Be ready for what might be just around the next corner. It may catch you off guard, but it just may change your path. Have your camera ready, a journal at hand, or just the eagerness to stop for a moment and take it all in. For me, it was simply stepping into our new canoe. I’d love to hear about your unexpected gift. Comment below and share with someone who needs to hear something good….I think that just might be all of us.

Stay Curious,

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6 Responses

  1. I felt I was floating in that canoe 🛶 with you! The birds & owls I absolutely LOVE!!! Thank you for taking us along. Keep writing & sharing 😊

  2. We are such kindred spirits. You always so eloquently verbalize my thoughts and feelings. If we would always remember to let go and let God…imagine the adventures we would experience! Thank you for being bold enough to write your thoughts so others know they are not alone. What therapy for the soul! Love you my friend!!

    1. Yes, we are! God had a good idea when he allowed our paths to cross again after so many years. We have already had some awesome adventures and I cannot wait to create more! Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement. That means more than you may realize! Love you too and thank you for supporting my adventure.

  3. Love the sound of the owls! How lucky ( blessed actually) to hear them and capture one in a picture.! Your lucky day! ❤️

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