Monday, September 9, 2013

Canoeing


Bonnie and I have been canoeing now for two days straight. We do it instead of cardio work on a treadmill I am supposed to be doing. Both Saturday and Sunday started out to be a quick trip on the water, just in and of the canoe. The trips ended up as lovely two hour mornings on the water. The biggest surprise was how fast a canoe can go when there is no one in it paddling backwards so that they can get home faster. The two of us know how to dip the paddle into the water and go in the same direction, so Johnson’s Point was upon us before we had even warmed up our muscles. We glided around subsequent corners, Bonnie spotting an osprey perched on the top of a silver grey tree trunk, now only a skeleton of its former glory. I had been listening to the calls of those birds so I saw a couple of them working each other over about territorial issues. As well I watched them circling over the water looking for food.

“Shall we go to the tunnels where the fishing is good,” I asked. “That the fishing is good there is a well known secret,” said Bonnie. “I think every clerk tells you that when you buy fishing lures in town.”

We want to get David into the canoe with us and we imagine that the best way to get him to have fun is going to be if he holds a fishing rod. Best for us because we won’t have him working against us as we paddle.

This trip will not be about getting him to paddle. He will know how to paddle when he is in his own canoe and trying to get home. Bonnie and I chat about way to go down to the lake every night after school, imagining that we will pack our food down there and eat on the dock, munching on our sandwiches and dangling hooks into the water. We will use balls flour dough for bait. I aim at keeping the cost down and the pleasure factor high.

Bonnie is amazing with the canoe – she drags it to the water’s edge when we begin. When we are finished she drags it back up, one-handedly flipping it over so that it will be dry when we come down again for more time on the water.

We went the opposite direction yesterday, west instead of east, looking at the houses from Lakemount Estates until we had paddled far enough that the last one on the shore was only a speck on the shoreline. I was watching for evidence that the edge of the water had been used during the summer. I saw a lost snorkel, a white-walled tire and a length of ski rope that had tied to a tree. “Maybe that is a place where someone always ties up their boat.” Bonnie said, “Do you think we will ever buy a little flat bottomed boat with a motor and try going up and down the shore in it.”

“Probably when I can’t paddle anymore. For now, this little bit of exercise doesn’t hurt though being on my knees, my legs extended behind me and keeping some of my weight on the seat behind me isn’t the perfect comfortable position. But as long as I enjoy this, I am going to do it.”

As we paddled west I wondered if I could remember the name of the tourist destination that used to be between us and Canoe, the hamlet. Can anyone remember the small cabins there and a stream I think. Zoning laws changed. When the owner went to sell, that space could no longer be a commercial development. I wondered whomever bought that and what was done with it. Now I can’t even remember the name of the development, but I was looking for it from the water, watching for the stream that used to cross under the highway and probably go through that development. It may be the same stream that flowed through a tourist stop on the highways, that beautiful path up a hill – the stream still there, but the knowledge of it gone, since the tourist stop has been taken out of that area. The locals know this is a place where they will often see an 18 wheeler overturned, one who ignores the sign that says slow to 70 km around this curve. I can see why highways won’t let us stop there.

I heard the stream from the water before I saw it, spilling over the stones, that clear water glistening in the sun, some silver, some bubbles, some splashing and trickling over other stones. We paddle further to a place we decided to call the 25 iron girder retaining wall. I count the girders twice just to make sure. The steel has been driven into the water and the rocks that buttress other parts of hill in that area look like they have been brought in from another quarry , larger ones than usual to give strength to the hill so that there won’t be a wash out. Bonnie and I try to take a good picture, our first time at paddling backward since that is David’s job in the canoe and we think about him again.

I am also studying the area of the forest where the fire was in the summer, looking on the opposite hill, looking at the burnished copper tinge to the whole area. I tried to take a picture but the sun is bright that I can’t tell from my camera screen if I had pointed the lens in the right direction.

“If we keep canoeing every day, I am going to get a new life jacket. This one smells musty,” Bonnie says, “I am reminded of those old orange life-jackets we used, two boxes on the front vest and two on the back. We used them long after their ability to hold anyone up in the water was gone. I can’t say I am comfortable. Every time I take a paddle stroke my arm rubs against the jacket. I can’t believe I am using it, considering its age and condition.”

Just past the 25-girder retaining wall I see a railroad mileage sign: 61. I am reminded of the old 49 mile sign, the one where Doral used to tell me, “Our land ends just between that sign and the next electrical pole to the west of it. From there think up to the highway and then over,” he would say. On the next canoe trip, I am going to go to that spot and look for the old 49 sign.

Instead of following the shoreline to get home we set our eye on Bonnie McLoone’s house. From the middle of the lake, its placement on the hill makes it look like a mansion, dwarfing the houses below it. We are paddling swiftly, straight now and driving ourselves along the hypotenuse of the triangle which helps us to cut off of a lot of paddling hours.

We aren’t paddling fast enough, though, to make this real exercise because I can still talk and I asked Bonnie if I had ever told her my first canoeing story. She said, “I don’t think so. Tell me more.”

After I finished she is giggling a bit and says, “You might think of putting that up as a blog post.”

I will.

Arta

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