Saturday, October 07, 2006

Here's why I moved back East

I've nearly been back in the Northeast longer than I was away; I was at college for four years and in Colorado for 16, and I moved back here in 1987. There are things I miss about Colorado, especially in the muggy days of an East Coast summer or when the dark, cold days of winter refuse to let go.

But this time of year, oh, my, am I glad to be back.

I went up to Plattsburgh and snatched a canoe away from my eldest child a few weeks ago, and this morning I put it into the Hudson River at the spot where the dogs get their drinks during our twice-daily walk. I paddled up stream (being no fool) and, once I was past the bridge over the Interstate, it was quiet and tranquil. After about half a mile, the sound of traffic was just a swishing in the background and I could almost pretend I wasn't in the city.

Mostly, I wanted a quick excursion to see what it would take to get the canoe up and down off the top of the van, how the dogs would react to sitting in the car and seeing me leave by river, and what muscle groups I would rediscover throughout the process.

The dogs do not get to come along. For one thing, they hate water and would be freaked out by the canoe, which is very small to begin with. Also, their combined weight is about 215 pounds and neither one of them is willing to help paddle. The combination of them not wanting to come and me not wanting them to come either, seemed to work out well -- they sat in the van and waited peacefully.

The canoe is small, so that, when I first got in, it wobbled quite a bit, but since I was always taught to kneel in a canoe rather than sit, it was comfortably stable once I was in position. And kneeling also takes a lot of the strain off your paddling muscles, so that went well, too. The only real problem is that my feet and knees aren't quite as flexible as they were 45 years ago when I was learning all this stuff -- I don't know how the voyageurs managed things once they started getting le rheumatiz but I suppose once you load your canoe with all those supplies, the issue of stability kind of takes care of itself one way or the other, no matter how you sit, kneel or stand in it.

I went upstream about a mile and a half and, as I went around a curve, started encountering a headwind, so decided I'd experimented enough. I turned around and sat on the floor of the canoe with the paddle across the thwarts and just let the slow current take me back to the boat launch, sticking the blade in now and then to keep me pointed downstream. Two guys went by in a bass boat, keeping their distance and not going too fast, and a fellow pulled out of his dock, headed for the boat launch to put his boat away for the winter. They were the only other people I saw on the river. I heard some kids playing on the shore at one point, and somebody's dog was barking, but that was balanced by a squirrel chattering away in the woods and a small formation of geese who went honking over, following the river south.

I live about five miles from this spot, and a mile from work. Granted, I'd rather live right on the river and in the middle of nowhere, but they don't publish newspapers in the middle of nowhere. All things consider, I have very little to complain about.

And this time of year, I rarely do.


MVNY said...

Oh yeah ---

ronnie said...

Just beYOOtiful, Mike. Husband and I took a long drive today which I'll be blogging in the coming days, just because it was the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada, just because we didn't have a gosh-darn other thing to do today, just because is a joy to do so at this time of year. One does feel truly blessed to live among such breathtaking beauty, such basically decent folk, such peace, prosperity and tranquility, be it Atlantic Canada or New England.


Dann said...

Nice pic, Mike.

I'm glad you have the chance to enjoy your surroundings.