“Saki, row properly,” Satoru complained for about the thirtieth time.
“I am doing it properly, you’re the one that’s not cooperating,” I responded for the thirtieth time.
Canadian canoes are operated by a pair of rowers sitting in a line and moving in tandem, but if their movements weren’t synchronized properly, they could row forever and never get anywhere. What that meant was that Satoru and I, partnered by lottery, were the worst imaginable pair.
“Man, why is that pair so different from us?”
From our perspective, Maria and Mamoru were in perfect harmony. Even though we had only a two-hour lecture on how to operate the canoe the day before, they looked like they had been partners for years. Not only that, but Mamoru had enough spare time to entertain Maria with rainbows he made out of the spray from the boat’s wake.
“Watch them carefully. Mamoru is matching his speed with Maria. Since the person in front can’t see what’s going on behind them, it’s up to the second person to adapt to the first.”
“But Maria is actually rowing properly. You just keep looking at the scenery and forget to row at all,” Satoru continued to grumble false accusations.
The early summer breeze flowing down the wide expanse of the river felt wonderfully cool. I stop paddling for just a little while and take off my hat, letting the wind tease my hair. The towel around my shoulders waved like a cape, exposing the back of my sweaty T-shirt for the wind to dry. The rubber life vest was torturous to wear, but a necessary precaution.
All along the riverbanks were clumps of reeds, and the chirps of the great reed warbler could be heard coming from within.
Suddenly, I felt the canoe gather speed and glide forward smoothly. For a second I thought Satoru had seen the error of his ways and was rowing the boat with all his strength. But of course that wasn’t it.
I looked back and saw that he leaning on the side of the boat, with one hand under his chin and the other trailing in the water.
“What are you doing?” I asked seriously.
He looked up. “The river feels so nice, like the ocean, just without all the salty spray,” he said, completely missing my point.