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Those Little Sparkly Lights

I was on a solo 6-week kayak trip paddling the circumference of Lake Ontario a few years back to celebrate my 50th birthday. I'd been paddling about 2 weeks when my boyfriend drove to meet me and put in for 2 days of paddling with me. Never mind how he got his boat back to his car, that's another whole story for another day. He headed back about mid-afternoon on Sunday and I felt really anxious to get some miles on. We had spent more time reacquainting than putting on any great distance.

I ended up paddling into the dark, unintentionally. When I had gotten a good 15 miles on I couldn't find a place to land, it was all cliffs! The wind had built up behind me out of the southeast, pushing me hard toward land but there were no beaches anywhere in sight. I kept going but was getting exhausted. It was also a dark night with cloud cover. My nighttime vision served me well so I avoided getting out the headlamp.

In the faintest dim, I saw a dip in the silhouette of the shore and decided it must be a stream. That would mean a delta and some sort of suitable landing beach. Closing in on the shore, one final large wave picked me up and dumped me on the cobbled beach. I put on the headlamp to look around for a level spot for the tent. Suddenly, thousands of little sparkly lights caught my eye. Everywhere I swung the light beam, there they were, those little sparkly lights. How sweet, I thought in my fatigue, it's just like a cold winter night with fresh snow! I felt so at home (I'm a dyed-in-the-wool cross country ski aficionado).

Almost immediately I thought better of it and got down real close to the ground. Spiders! Billions of them as far as the eye could see! Okay, now I was truly spooked. I mean, dark, windy night, waves crashing and sending up huge stacks against the cliffs, no one on the lake at all, creepy power station a mile back, and me and a billion spiders. I grabbed up my tent and sleeping bag and pad, ran around in repeated circles yelling very loud profanities cursing the spiders, stomping the ground to really scare them away, threw the tent down, whipped up the stays and dove into it. Then I sat there for a minute, heart still racing, checking every corner to see if there were any stowaways. Safe. None inside.

You know what occurred to me just then? They'd probably been with me every single night, but had I noticed? Nah! I don't shine a light when I leave the tent at night to mark my territory. I think they're the hide-under-the-rocks-until-nightfall kind of spider.

Did I get a good night's sleep that night? You bet. They were outside and I was in.

Happy paddling!

Submitted by: Louise Adie - Trumansburg, NY

For more great stories: See the Archive!

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