|Vicky and Valerie with schnauzers Samantha and Krikit, Ludington State Park, Michigan, 1971|
My sister and I once canoed down a stretch of the Green River, near Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Our trip started where the Echo River flows out of the ground and joins the Green, at Green River Ferry Road, and ended at the campground by Houchins Ferry, over 10 miles downstream, where we would spend the night. Starting at dusk, we had the river all to ourselves. There was no wind and the water was flat like a floor, as fog began to form a thin layer several feet above the surface. This ceiling was just over our heads, but, by standing up, we could see above it. The air was crisp and damp but not too cold, and it smelled of caves, fish, and mud.
Very soon, the bats came out. They zoomed past us, in and out of the fog, coming so close we could feel the breeze of their wings and hear their tiny rustlings. It was truly magical and made us both talk very quietly so as not to disturb the ambiance.
As darkness descended, the sounds of frogs and insects increased and the fog cleared. Nothing was visible along the black, forested shores, so we stayed in the middle of the river, where a path of faint light formed our route downstream. The stars appeared in full force and glittered on the reflective water as we glided along until coming to the brightly lit ferry crossing that marked the end of our trip.