2020-2021 Youth Writing Contest Honorable Mention – Senior Category – Maine (Grades 9–12)
Evelyn Dearborn, Age 17, Maranacook Community HS, Readfield
I sit alone at my desk and recount the summer months. As a kid who harbors a relative distaste for the winter months and who lacks the aptitude for most winter activities, I can only reminisce about the warm season after the snow has all melted. Perhaps my silly desk lamp will transfigure into the gargantuan gas-ball above, heating the earth and moving us quickly to spring and then summer?
The solar blast of the early summer sun’s beams warmed our scalps as we paddled along. My aunt had long since passed us in her kayak, and as far as we could tell she was over a quarter-mile upstream. Not that we were concerned.
Our old canoe had been patched in too many areas for comfort––yet it was a little too precious to my father to toss.
As we passed a clump of reeds, the vessel lurched. My stomach suddenly recounted breakfast … a protein shake, I believe. With blueberries.
“Want a break?” asked my father. I nodded, catching my breath.
I set the paddle across my thighs, stretching my legs into the belly of the canoe, and allowing my hands to dangle in the slopping water at the sides of the boat. Though the water was refreshing to the touch, I didn’t quite fancy the notion of soaking myself through to the bone. Maine winters tend to haunt even the most pleasant of seasons, thrusting an occasional jab at you when you suddenly believe the winter months to be a bad dream. Our state features a wide range of weather, from benign, chilly breezes in April, to powerful blizzards in May.
Perspiration clung to my brow, toying with me. Threatening to drizzle into my eye, and sting me like some saline bee. I wiped it away. My father raised his paddle and splashed a spat of droplets onto my face. I laughed, picking up my paddle and returning the favor.
“Let’s catch your aunt,” encouraged my father, splashing me once more. The rhythm of paddling swiftly returned. Ingrained into my shoulders was a pattern I had learned, and relearned from springtime to springtime and forgotten between winters. Between strokes, my head tipped, peering into the crystalline pools beneath us.
The fish below appeared to trail the canoe. Little sunfish and others foreign to me, their gleaming bodies nearly silken in the glimmering sunlight. I thought of the strange curiosity of aquatic life to their land-bound cousins, and recognized there bore no difference between the terrestrial interest in the aquatic, and vice versa.
“There she is!” called my father, lowering his paddle to his hip, raising a wave so swiftly the canoe rocked. And there she was, paddle across her legs as she hung in the reeds. Staring into the mass of grasses, observing a family of ducks that were invisible to us, yet audible – the timid peeping of chicks, and the tepid response of the mother. I tasted each moment, and relished the sun. Each memory a portal to sensation––sensations we each hunger for in the frigid months of winter. However, the sun of my memory is my desk lamp. And the blizzard has yet to wane.