By Lynda Aghan

A hiker was enjoying her walk in the bush.  She could hear the birds chatting away and could see their forms flirting in and out of the trees.  She could smell the earth and hear the crunch of the fallen leaves and small branches as she stepped on them. She could feel the sun warming her and was enjoying the early autumn sunshine.  She could hear the river close by.

As the hiker got closer to the river, she could see the clear water flowing over rocks and how the sunshine sparkled on the surface.  It was as she was enjoying the view that she thought she could hear someone calling.  The hiker looked around but could not see anyone close by.  She called out herself to try and pin down where this person was.  The hiker began to walk along the bank of the river, calling periodically.  She found that the track began to go uphill and the river fell away but the hiker was encouraged to keep going as the voice seemed to be getting louder.

Soon she came to a section of the river where the bank was steep.  There were branches, debris and mud and amongst the rubble was a person.  Now this person was covered in mud so it was hard to see if it was a man or a woman.  They were hanging onto a branch but it looked as if all efforts to get out of the water had failed and the person was very stuck. 

The hiker called down to the person and asked if the person was hurt.  The person replied that they were not injured but was stuck and could not get out.  The hiker asked if they had tried to pull themselves out and hiker replied that of course they had but had no success. The hiker asked if the person could swim.  The person replied that they could but they were very tired from swimming and trying to get out of the river.  The hiker asked the person if they could stand upright or was the water too deep.  The person replied that they could not reach the bottom of the river. The hiker and person then went onto discussing various options to getting out of the river but to all suggestions, the hiker replied that they had tried and failed. 

From the hiker’s vantage point, she could see that only a short distance away from the person, the river flowed cleanly.  When she pointed this out to the person, they said that they could not see this.  The hiker said if the person washed the mud away from their eyes and face, then they might be able to see better.  The person said that if they let go of the branch, then they would be swept away by the river. The hiker could see that there was a large rock that was half way between where the person was and where the river was clearer, will less debris.  The water seemed to go past the person and around the rock before continuing along its path.  All the person needed to do was let go of the branch and make their way to the boulder.  The hiker told the person about the large rock but the person said that they could not see it.  The hiker asked the person to try and wash some of the mud away from their eyes.  The person finally agreed to try.  So with one hand, the person was able to wash enough away that they said that they could make out the boulder but not very clearly.  The person was very hesitant about letting go of the branch and pushing themselves away from the bank to move towards the large rock.  The hiker encouraged the person to try, saying that they would be there and not going away.

The person asked what benefit would it be to move to the rock as they were still in the river and not able to get out.  The hiker replied that from their walk, they could see that the river got shallower and the bank was not high like it was where the person was.  So all the person had to do was make it to the boulder, use the clearer water to clear the mud totally away from their face and they would be able to see clearer and be able to make their way down river and be able to get out.    

So the person decided to trust and let go of the branch and began to swim towards the boulder.  Now the way was hampered by debris and mud, but the way got easier the closer the person got to the stone.  The water around the boulder was clearer but not totally free of obstacles.  When the person got to the large rock, using one hand they were able to clean their face better and remove the mud enough that they could see.  They would see that the bank was not as steep as from where they had come from and they were encouraged to keep going.

The hiker followed the person as they made their progress down the river.  The hiker could see the courage that it took for the person to let go of the branch.  The hiker knew that the person had been afraid to try something that they could not see clearly before attempting to get to the boulder.  But with encouragement and determination, the person was able to make it down the river to shallow water and be able to finally get out onto dry land.