Allison dug the paddle deep and pulled. Diamond like drops rained on her as she swung the oar over and into the depths to her right. Left, right, left, right. Dig, pull, dig, pull. She was on a mission.
Ahead she could make out the spit of ground in the early morning mists. Ole sat hunkered down, his blue heron neck folded. She didn't want to wake him from his slumber, but it was important. Allison saw his neck straighten to ballerina length and then his wings stretched. Before she could blink, he took flight.
And then she was there. She dropped the paddle to the bottom of the boat and sat still. The red belly of the canoe sliced through the reeds slowly. Allison let it glide and she listened, afraid to even breathe. The tall grasses whispered against the canoe and she strained to hear the message, for message there must be. And then the canoe halted, brought to a stop by the same reeds that had hailed her. She drifted against them, leaning over. Closing her eyes. Clearing her mind. The message. What was the message?
The sun rose up full from behind towering pines and still she sat waiting for clarity, until it seemed no message was forthcoming. Defeated, Allison lifted the paddle and gently pushed her way from the reeds. How silly of her to think there would be a message from the other side? That her mother would somehow be able to give her comfort from the grave on this date each year. But she'd been so sure she would find it here. On the lake. In nature. This would be where her mother would speak to her once more.
She guided the boat, hugging the shore. There was no hurry to head home. The woman and her canoe glided on the cool water. Behind her, Ole took his rightful place once again and began to fish. The lily pads when she came upon them surprised her with their delicate white flowers puckered closed. Once again, she pulled the oar from the water and let the boat drift of its own accord.
Allison leaned to the left and let her fingertips graze the water. She closed her eyes. The rocking of the boat soothed and soon the tears that had been held back trickled down her cheeks. And that's when she felt it, a delicate tapping on her wrist. She opened her eyes and saw the iridescent green dragonfly studying her. It gleamed and sparkled. She smiled and it flew away. The message - it was of hope.
Lou Jean Streed 1939-2009