Chapter 2: Where we finally get wet. I tried to get the boat in the water for the entire weekend, the US Census had us pressed ganged for 2 days, spending many hours standing around in parking lots while our betters decided how to best use the manpower…no i am not exaggerating, i swear. Monday was one of my prespent days at the vet clinic leaving Tuesday to play catch up with all the crap i didn’t do the 1st four days. After installing the cleats on Tuesday midnight, with the boat in the bed of the pickup under the parking lot lights, I just went the rest of the way and loaded all the gear. Now I know why fisherman leave the house so early…because if you wait for the phone to start ringing, the emails to start coming or there rest of the world to wake up, you WILL NEVER GET WHERE YOU ARE GOING!
Did I mention that I found this whole thing utterly terrifying? the 2 times i have been in small boats/canoes nothing good happened. When I was 12, I lost the oars and then the inflatable boat I happened to be in…and from what I remember of the high school canoe trip I spent a lot of time being wet…and mind you I don’t swim willingly. This time the moment where I pushed off from shore and got IN the boat was actually pretty unmemorable, it happened just as I had planned it. Much of what happened was as I expected or rather much less traumatic. I spent the first 20 minutes working out how the oars worked, which oddly I likened to learning a video game, forward, backward, turn left, turn right. Then the next half hour figuring out how to get where I wanted to go with these new controls. After that I tried to reach that stage where I was competent enough to not have to THINK about what I was doing…sort of like learning to drive stick…it never goes smooth until you stop thinking about it..
I didn’t have any set goals..aside from staying IN THE BOAT, but I had a good idea what was up past the bend in the river and had brought the appropriate gear to pick up any trash along the way (a garden rake and a recycling bin), so I had plenty to keep me busy. Due to the spring river flooding the sanctuary was actually pretty clear of trash, a few bottles and Dunkin Donuts cups gave me practice at deliberate manuevering the 10 foot aluminum boat where i wanted it to go. Sometimes it took a while to line it up just right…i definitely need a longer handle on my potato rake. Someone had even tossed in a television set for me to rescue, i had seen it a week ago and had only a small plan to hook it by rope and then pull it out with the truck, but it turned out to be floating free, so i towed it to shore and hauled it out by hand..
I made it as far as our great blue heron rookery where i was pissed at myself for deliberately leaving my camera at home. I had been making due with the cellphone-cam and badly missed my weapon of choice. There was even a visiting seabird that I have yet to identify (white wings, dark body, red beak – large and swan like) note to self: bring/buy a pair of binocs next time. I have been practicing a forward type of crawling paddle, so that I can get a good look at where I am going and what birds and animals I am about to scare away. Not very many people get out to these parts, so they vamoose before I get too close. I only caught a glimpse of one beaver this time, but I have some beaver shots….perhaps in future they won’t mind me so much..
Have I mentioned my ass yet? From my newbie vantage point, I see that rowing is like cycling, it shouldn’t hurt if you are doing it right. I could feel parts of my anatomy shaking off their winter sloth, and I think I am shorter than I am supposed to be for this, my feet didn’t get much purchase to apply the proper stroke, so my ass got the work out instead…this is not a bad thing, i got plenty to spare. The only real exersion, was when I hauled the Jerome K out of the water, and my gear, and the trash not to mention the TV set, putting it all back in the truck wasn’t as much fun as taking it out. As I mentioned I didn’t hurt…yet….i had a little nap and then walked like an aged crone carrying a donkey for the rest of the day, but I recovered. I WAS planning for saturday, but the Census called…then i put my eye to Sunday but the Animal Rescue people called…now I am looking at monday..but this time…4 AM kick off.