I want to do a detailed drawing of lily pads. The people who’ve assigned flowers to each month attributed the lily for July—my birth month. Maybe that’s why those flowers fascinate me. It’s kismet.
I load up the canoe—my glasses, a Bristol pad, two pencils, a canteen of water, two paddles—“for insurance” I tell my husband, and an anchor, so I can sit relatively still among the lilies. I fasten on my required life preserver and cast off.
Immediately the canoe’s prow turns north, exactly opposite to where I want to go. I paddle as hard as I can to turn the boat against the strong wind and current from the south end of the lake. After 50 yards in the wrong direction, I manage to face the canoe into the wind. It’s a fight just to keep it straight and bring it back to our own dock. The wind insists it will only let me progress if I go north.
Guess the lilies will have to wait till the wind changes its mind.
A steady wind blew all Monday and Tuesday. Today it seems to have died down a bit. I stow my gear on the canoe and set out again. This time I’m able to paddle upwind — south. I get half way down the lake, almost to the lily pads when the wind picks up and with it, the waves. They force the canoe broadside and I’m pushed back 100 yards. In spite of my best efforts to turn the prow south, all I turn is circles. I see no one on the lake or shore, but if anyone is watching, they must be laughing.
I waited two days to get this close to the water lilies. I refuse to give up. I paddle as hard as I can, switching quickly from side to side and make slow progress south. Fighting the wind all the way, I finally arrive amidst the lily pads and drop anchor.
If I thought the lily pads would lie still and pose for my sketch, I was very mistaken. Of course each grouping I concentrate on ripples with the water and too often I spin right over the lilies. After forty-five minutes I decide I have enough of a drawing to work on back home. Besides, I fear I’ll become seasick if I spin around much more.
I yank on the anchor but it doesn’t budge. I settle into the bottom of the canoe and pull again. Nothing. The anchor is twisted about a grouping of lilies. I certainly don’t want to destroy my subject by uprooting them—but that doesn’t seem possible anyway. I consider leaving the anchor. Without a knife I can’t cut the thick rope and hate to leave anchor and eight yards of good rope—most of which sits coiled in the canoe, the lake’s no more than eight feet deep here—at the bottom of the lake. I pull the canoe directly over the tangled lilies and unwind the rope in the direction opposite the tangle. Then, after the third tug, I feel the anchor begin to lift. What a relief!
There’s little need to paddle now; I merely have to keep the canoe facing north to let the wind and current bring me home. Someday, when the lake is like glass, I’ll try again. Maybe the water lilies will hold a pose then.