“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
We move. A lot. So attending the same event two years in a row is a rare treat for me. Last year when we canoed the Farmington River post-hurricane, the river was so full we wanted to duck when going under bridges. This year the water was so low we stopped and carried our canoes and kayaks through shallows. Last year was the highest the guide had ever seen the water in September, this year the lowest. And I got to see both.
70+ boys in 40+ boats paddling on a small river make a dramatic spectacle. The herons that live along the river were not thrilled by our parade — we kept startling them into the air. They would fly down the river, resettle, only to be startled again. One time when we startled them one of them had just speared a fish. In his surprise, he dropped the fish back into the water and one of the scouts fished it out. You could see the entry and exit points of the spearmarks of the heron’s beak.
There’s not much of the solitude and peace that I usually associate with canoeing when you share a river with 75 boystrous boys… but I still found a few of those transcendant moments, watching my paddle dip in and out of the water.
from Skin Canoes by Carolyn Forche
Once I nudged a canoe through that water,
letting its paddle lift, drip.
I was sucked down smaller than the sound
of the dropping, looked out
from where I had vanished.
You can read the rest of Carolyn’s Poem at The Poetry Foundation.
We passed a family in hand-made boats and I felt a wave of longing for a wood canoe of my own and the stability it would represent. I’ve always wanted a wood canoe but I move too often to invest in something so difficult to store.
from Hiawatha’s Sailing by Longfellow
Thus the Birch Canoe was builded
In the valley, by the river,
In the bosom of the forest;
And the forest’s life was in it,
All its mystery and its magic,
All the lightness of the birch-tree,
All the toughness of the cedar,
All the larch’s supple sinews;
And it floated on the river
Like a yellow leaf in Autumn,
Like a yellow water-lily.
Get out an enjoy the beautiful fall weather by floating “like a yellow lead in autumn” on a river near you!
For more Poetry Friday, visit Renee at No Water River.