Monday, September 1, 2008

Perfection and Farewell, Summer

If a bad day on the river is better than a good day at work, then a good day on the river must be, well, perfect. If there is such a thing as perfection, then that is it for me. From the gentle Etowah and Chestatee rivers to the Chattahoochee, Cartecay, Hiwassee, Chattooga, Tuckasegee, Ocoee and the Nantahala; from the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho to the bashing white water of the Arkansas River in Colorado, I can think of no better way to stimulate my senses, and to touch, sometimes, my soul. It doesn't take a complicated set of rapids or an extra-special boat; it's as simple as breathing the air, looking at the natural surroundings, and as Burton says, finding the V's.

Did I enjoy my weekend? You bet.

Today is Labor Day, the day we traditionally bid farewell to summer. I have always found summer to be my favorite season. It's not that I don't like the other seasons; they all have their charms. But I particularly enjoy summer sports, summer fruit, the long days, the beach, a good suntan, and for the first 20 or so years, summer meant no school. Even better, summer meant camp! I think I will always be on "The Quarter System," and summer will always be my reward for passing all the tests taken during the rest of the year.

As for this summer, I hardly have much to say, as I have no perspective on it yet. It definitely was not as great as the summer that John, Brent and I went on a Middle Fork trip, followed by adventures in Yellowstone and the Tetons, culminating with Matthew Bagen's wedding in Jackson Hole. That trip was definitely outstanding, for all the right reasons. But this summer had its highlights. I will always remember the delicious meals delivered with such care, the scrumptious hugs, real and virtual, and the prayers and wishes for my recovery that were spread over near and far. I'm counting on the memories of radiation, chemotherapy, and scans and medical tests of all forms to fade. The next season will likely include the drama of major surgery and the loss of a vital organ, and more treatment. Perhaps I will aim for using the winter solstice as my turning point. I like the metaphor of darkness to light. From the shortest day of the year forward, I will strive to begin my recovery and reentry into the practical world.

There is still work to do before final decisions are made and put into place. That means that tomorrow I will do what I do on most days - put one foot in front of the other.

Love to all.


Ann said...

Wow, you really leave me speechless. I am so glad your weekend was as special as it was for you. You deserve it. Your perspective on your whole experience is truly have proven to be a pillar of strength during this unbelievably trying time.
I hope the coming week brings you whatever you need to continue down the path you are on...the information to make the decisions you need to make, the strength to feel good, and the energy to get through each day easily.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Elyse:
At one point you were looking for "things" to keep you occupied. I think you've inadvertently found your thing -- writing. I never knew you had this talent. Your last entry was a pleasure to read, very heartfelt and evocative. I, for one, would love to hear more about the trips you've taken. Keep it coming and know that your writing is helping us readers to appreciate the importance of friendship and the restorative powers of travel to wherever makes you feel at peace. Hang in there. Ellen

Rachel said...

"Summer - it turns me upside down.
Summer summer summer, its like a merry go 'round."

We paddled in Lake Michigan over the weekend (very close to shore) and I thought of you.

Who knew the Cars would be singing your song this year?

sandplay said...

Your words are as beautiful as your spirit. So glad to hear the holiday was good for you. Wishes of love , light and smiles,

Steven said...


Your courage continues to amaze us! Now that summer has ended on a high, hopefully the coming seasons will be equally as good to you and your family! All the best!

Steve & Melissa Best

eeplan said...


I loved reading your thoughts on summer. Fall has always been my favorite season and feels to me like a "beginning" (even though I know that is counter-intuitive). I am hoping for an "autumnal" progression with your health, and I look forward to sharing a clear, brisk afternoon with you soon!

Much love - Elise

Anonymous said...

Hey girl!
I'm glad to see you up and out on the water. I love to hear what you have to say--it's always so beautifully written. You have such a beautiful soul really! I went to the Soldier Hollow Dog Trials in Heber, Utah this weekend. The new thing is "Splash Dogs." All I could think of were our old doggies. While you were in the late summer sun on Monday, I was in rain and a little SNOW. It's gonna be a long winter in Utah.:) I hope this week is a little easier on your mind and heart. Big, big hug!!!Bridgette

Anonymous said...

Here's to a positive future for you.

Susan said...

I have returned from Houston with kisses from Neil & Liz for YOU. You should know that so many Houstonians who have met you or know of you asked me about you and are sending supportive thoughts/prayers your way. As only you could, YOU have galvanized a team of well wishers that feels like family enveloping a loved one in a time of need. Looking forward to sharing a hug of my own with you soon.
Love, Susan

Anonymous said...


I am glad we got to see you this past weekend...I think I should have gone on the river with you instead of listening to screechy kids' voices all the way home!! We'll plan our own NC trip soon. I can't wait for the Fall foliage (my fave season). I'll be around all weekend...I'll get in touch...

By the way, I think you have a memoir in the works. I will write it for you while you are dictate, I'll type. You know how much I love memoirs!! Still working on the one with the heinous mother! I think you have a good book in you...

L, Jill

Patti said...

You give me goosebumps and make me so proud and humble to be part of your life.


Anonymous said...

You are so brave and quite a writer.This will make a great book someday. Keep paddling and never give up. You're the best and have the best friends behind you!
Your decision will be the right one.
Roberto C.

Forrest said...


I share your love for the outdoors so I certainly understand why you love being out there so much and why it is relaxing. Keep up the fight and hope to see you next week.