This past week, I had a very humbling experience. My boat motor sputtered, died and would not start again. I floated the short way down river and tied up the boat to the dock. Then, I drove back to Live Oak. I figured some water might have gotten into the fuel line from all of the recent rains, so I purchased a new fuel line and connected it to an empty fuel tank that I had at the house. After filling this gas tank with fresh fuel, I drove back to the river, two days later, to try out my new fuel system on the motor. The battery was now dead. This was all a good reminder that a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money. I decided to float the boat down to the boat ramp and get it back on the trailer.
I am so glad that my problems with my boat motor forced me to paddle a couple of miles downstream on the Suwannee. It had been far too long since I have traveled on the river without the assistance of a gas-powered motor. It was a nice break in an otherwise hectic week, and it gave me a chance to think about how lucky I actually am. There are people who struggle just to make house and car payments. Even though I am currently having problems with my boat, I am extremely lucky to even be able to afford a boat.
As I made my way slowly downstream, there was a storm in the distance and I was thankful that it was not currently raining on me. There was a clear, bright rainbow off to the east, and I might not have taken the time to look around had I been motoring full speed down the river. I made a quick stop at a small spring, and the cool, clear water was exactly what I needed to help energize me for the rest of the paddling still to come. I was mainly just floating but had to paddle quite a bit to steer the boat and keep it off of the rocks.
It was breezy, and the wind was blowing leaves into the water and making the moss in the trees sway. I could hear the sturgeon that were landing in the river after their leaps into the air. When the boat reached a spot in the river where the current was strong because of the shallow areas on both banks, it sounded like a large waterfall. I had nearly forgotten the sounds that the river makes that are rarely heard over the drone of the outboard engine. This all made me feel glad to live in an area with such natural beauty.
My boat motor is not running, but I am lucky to live where I do and am lucky to be able to afford a boat at all. There are many who may never be able to afford something as frivolous as a boat. Take some time to slow down at some point this week and appreciate the delicate balance that keeps us all alive. It is truly something to be thankful for.
Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.