You may be forgiven for assuming that because we live on Rice Lake we must own a pontoon or at least a boat with a motor to putter about in.
Despite Viviana’s coaxing I’ve remained uncompromising. Internal combustion engines exasperate me. Until I was over thirty, I never owned a car, though I often rented one.
Cautiously, over time, I acquired additional noisy machines – a generator, a lawnmower, a snow-blower – but only because rural life demanded them.
We enjoy the sights Rice Lake offers from the land. Spectacular dawns, gentle sunsets. We delight in viewing the river and the lake from the seasonal gravel road that wends its silent way from Hastings to Keene. Crimson in the fall, in winter a study in black and white.
But just two days ago, my perspective changed.
“How about Sunday afternoon on our pontoon boat?” Anne asked.
Viviana didn’t give me time to think twice, so enthusiastic was she. And so, at high noon, four of us sat comfortably as Peter eased the pontoon away from Elmhirst’s dock.
Immediately, I was granted an alternative view of the world. From standing onshore looking out at the sparkling water and the tree-clad islands, we were dawdling comfortably a hundred yards offshore admiring the land that had been settled both late and soon. Farmhouses we recognized, old grey barns we admired, cornfields and grazing we were familiar with – and all from a different perspective.
In my mind’s eye, I could create the complementary view and as I did so, I grasped a more nuanced, more intricate and deeper appreciation of the landscape that I thought I knew so well.
As I relished the spread of fuller understanding, a different thought struck me: that this complementary perspective is what enriches our minds when we approach problems and ask questions from different points of view in pursuit of understanding and growth — and by so doing, misunderstandings, even falsehoods may be exposed. My previous land-based perspective was only a fragment of the truth. We need the complementary floating perspective to appreciate the larger, fuller picture.
The motion of the boat and Peter’s account of the long and diverse history of settlement brought us back into the beauty of the here and now.
Wending our silent way up the Ouse River with kingfishers darting to guide the way, water lilies bobbing within touching distance and the occasional canoeist raising her hand in cordial greeting, we absorbed the experience with barely a word.
For all four of us, that Sunday afternoon, the water and the land, the realities of the offshore and the onshore, offered the sacred and the transcendental as complementary truths through which we human beings come to know ourselves, others, and the wonderful world we inhabit.