Dolphins have often escorted me to open water from the dock on a canal of my friend’s backyard in St. Petersburg Florida. Almost daily they appear on the horizon or better yet, close to my kayak sometimes alone and sometimes in a pod. One day a juvenile came alongside the kayak, skimmed the surface of the water, then moments later disappeared. I have watched schools of mullet fish leap to great heights only to belly flop again.
One Sunday morning, I wondered if God would mind if I played hooky from church. I headed outside. Within minutes the whoosh of air and water-spout of a large dolphin urged me to enjoy God’s creation. I passed the aptly named Bird Island, a well-known tourist spot. It was easy to see pelicans, whooping cranes, egrets, hawks, to name but a few of the birds that perched on every tree and shrub of this island. Paddling on, I kayaked under a bridge and headed into a large bay. I saw a young woman on a “S.U.B.” (Stand Up Board) who looked in my direction and said, “Can you see the manatees?” For the next two hours my new acquaintance and I watched six manatees swim alongside, around and under us.
A very large sea cow poked its nose out of the water and snorted in my scent, then prodded the end of my kayak with its snout. As it rolled onto its back, the manatee kept eyeing me. Then this gentle giant flipped its tail, twisted, turned around, then sank out of sight.
My congregational meeting, of sorts, reached a holy moment when we realized that one of the manatees had given birth. Dumbfounded and awed by the privilege of such a rare opportunity, we watched as cow and calf floated and swam in the middle of the pod. The infant calf seemed glued to its parent. Then it rose closer to the surface, while the mother distanced herself, waited a moment, then proceeded to move in under the baby.
Not to be out done, a juvenile swam out of the pod towards us; the youngster blew bubbles and snorted. It rolled onto its back and wiggled its paddle-like flippers looking as if it wanted a belly rub!
Church ended, the congregants disbanded. Awed and overwhelmed by the beauty and design of God’s creation, I said my good-byes and pointed the kayak towards home.
O LORD, our LORD, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth. (Psalm 8:1)
Ramona Furst is a wife, mother of two grown children and grandmother of a seventeen year old grandson and a eleven year old granddaughter. Writing and painting are passions that seem to be inspired best when she spends her time out of doors. Especially when she is at the family's cottage, which is on an island in Georgian Bay. Visit her at www.ramonafurst.com