The sun sets over the river, ribbons of gold and blue reflected in the tranquil ripples. The trees are sharp, black silhouettes against the bright sky, and reflect below in the water like a Group of Seven painting of Algonquin Park.
The park that stretches along the river’s edge is, in sharp contrast to the surroundings, bustling with activity. The shouts of children and teens ring out across the water. Feet pound the damp cool ground as cross country runners practice alongside soccer and rugby teams going through the paces of their fitness exercises. A sprinter flies along the beach in a flash of black shadow. When he stops and walks up from his course he resembles a scuba diver emerging from the frigid depths.
Ducks waddle up to the passersby, unafraid and curious. Seagulls circle directly overhead, screeching loudly enough to rival the sounds of the children. Geese fly overhead in information, heading south for the winter.
A lonely kayaker drifts past out in the water, arms windmilling in perfect rhythm. I wonder if he hears the shouts from shore or if he is enshrouded in perfect peace.
As the sun dips lower, the sky deepens to purple-red to match the vibrant maple trees nearby.
One by one, the groups finish their activities, pack up and wander away to warmer, brighter places. I pull my blanket up and hold it tightly around my shoulders.
In the end, when the moon is up and the stars are out, only one group of youngsters remains. Their shouts and intermittently flashing lights cut through the heavy shroud of night. Adventurers and explorers all, reveling in the dark.