Crossing the Loop 534 bridge from Memorial Boulevard to Bandera Highway, I glanced left, or south, long enough to see that the Guadalupe at Kerrville-Schreiner Park was unmarked by wind or creature.
I was driving Carter’s Ford F-150 truck, with no air conditioning, so I had the driver’s window down all the way and the triangular “quarter-glass” turned inward, directing the hot Hill Country air toward my chest.
Today’s paddle-boarding session would be different. I usually struggled a bit going downriver, typically against a slight breeze, and tolerating the corruption of ripples along the surface. They disturbed by feng shui. And, for my return to the take-out ramp, I would have the wind at my back, which always made me feel I’d accomplished less during the second half of my session than during the first.
Fishermen would have their lines out, waiting and jawing. Kayakers and other SUP boarders would be rounding the small island near the dam or paddling near the ramp. Cheerful children might be swimming in small groups, their appropriate shrieks defining a weekend afternoon. Perhaps a jet-ski, like last week, would growl at the rest of us as it spat its way quickly away.
But today would be different.
I would get home, quickly undress and throw on my swim trunks, bungie the board into the back of Carter’s truck and head the two miles back to the river. I’d park with only one other vehicle in the lot — one was exiting and the passenger lifted his chin at me in recognition of my imminent joy — and after locking my wallet and phone in the truck and making sure — making SURE, MAKING SURE, I had the keys in my zipper pocket — I’d be puncturing the cellophane surface of the water with my plastic paddle blade.
No others: no paddlers, no jet-skis, no fishermen. Not even ducks. Perhaps a turtle here or there which left only a shimmering imperfect circle from its dive to the river bottom when it felt me coming.
I would stroke hard downriver, jump off the board to get refreshed, then practice some tight turns and fall off, and then stroke hard back upriver, accomplishing just what I did the first half.
And so it was.