There were three of us in the boat that day - myself, F and the absent dog. Collectively, we were feeling rather liverish, the early morning start and preceding late night having dampened our normally ebulliant natures. Even the absent dog was inclined to tackle the situation with a marked lack of gusto. Indeed, if unevoked he seemed inclined to nod off and fade away.
Fortunately, the giant plastic tropical fruit replica in which we intended to descend the gleaming Sázava appeared both commodious enough to contain any volume of thunderous yawning, and stable enough to remain buoyant during even the greatest of ill winds and foul-blown tempers. As we launched our canoe and dipped our paddles in the crystalline waters beneath the prow, our slow retreat from the hurly-burly of the rental station eased our furrowed brows. A gentle breeze seemed to waft a sweet melody towards us.
"This is kind of fun."
"Yeah. It's nice. Does the absent-dog-with-the-cutsy-name like water?"
"No. He hates getting wet. But I think he might like this."
"Maybe when you follow the absent-dog-with-the-cutsy-name on his trip to the country-with-a-famously-big river you can go on a boat trip together."
"He might like that."
Silence fell. Birds chirped.
We exchanged waves of mutual geniality with passing Czech boatmen whose bonhomie was as huge and fizzy as the tins of Staropramen lager they brandished as a sign of friendship. As they passed us, still waving lit cigarettes daringly close to the sides of their inflated rubber raft, we fell silent as a mark of respect for their heroic drinking abilities.
A few miles passed with a rippled effect for added dreamy quality. But as the sun rose higher in the sky, it melted away the morning-glazed euphoria that had dulled our sharper edges and smoothed over the lack of sunscreen and insect repellent.
"Stop humming. It's annoying."
"Ok. Lets just make our way out of this flotilla of seventy-two identical bright yellow canoes. Their spinning is making me feel rather bilious."
"Fine. Oh, wait. Paddle left."
"Yes. Turn left."
"Turn left or paddle left?"
"The OTHER Left!"
Splish. Thud. Scrape.
"Okay. I'll just push against this rock and try to move us backwards. Can you see anything in our way?"
"There's a rock!"
"There! There's a rock!"
"What rock? Where? I can't see dammit."
"Where's the bloody rock??"
"Rock! Rock! Rooooocccck!"
Crash. Thud. Flip.
"My flip-floooop! Noooo!"
The genial laughter from some more passing Czech boatman did very little to improve the gloomy cloud which had settled approximately two feet from the left bank and half-submerged itself in some springtime rapids.
"Can you help me turn this thing over?"
"I've lost my shooooeee."
"It's landed on my foot."
"I can't walk. The rocks are too slippery."
"I don't like this."
"The absent dog wouldn't like this AT ALL."
"We. Need. To. Turn. This. Thing. Over."
"My clothes are completely drenched!"
"It's. Too. Heavy."
"I'm standing on algae! Algae!"
"For. Me. To."
"In bare feeeet!!!"
"It was my faaavvvvooooooorriiiite!!!"
"It had floooowweerrs!"
"I caaaaan'tt seeeee!!!"
Sloshslosh. Splish. Splosh. Glug-glug.