Sunday, August 22, 2010

Going Down the River

Not to keep harping on our birthdays, but we went out did something that we'd been wanting to do for a long time, and yet never managed to do: kayaking along the river. It's easy enough to do, our friend MB owns Wilderness Trails, the outdoor shop adjacent to the Quechee Inn that rents kayaks and bikes in the Summer and XC skis and snowshoes in the Winter. He also maintains all the trails near Dewey's Mill Pond. He does a great job, and has kayaks available at the Hartland Dam.

Interestingly enough, after we got the key, we headed to the dam and stopped by his house, of all things, to check out his wife's farm stand, which is en route. She is CS, who is the matriarch of the HFM, where sells quiche and fresh fruits and veggies, as well as a variety of other foods. She does an amazing job and has quite the spread at their house. Rows of blueberries and an amazing garden, not to mention a world of knowledge about growing. We picked her brain about growing blueberries, which we have failed at miserably... or not. We did learn a lot, some of which indicates that we didn't screw up completely, which would be a first.

Anyway, back to the kayaks. The way it works is you head over to see MB and he gives you a key and some lifejackets and oars. You then head over to the dam and unlock the kayaks and you're ready to go. We had never really done this as a family, and N expressed some reservations, perhaps because the last (and first) time he went out on a kayak was at Lake Sunapee, and the conditions were horrible. It was so windy that the water was choppy like the ocean. I don't blame him for being pensive.

That day, however, was calm and beautiful. In fact, we benefited from some cloud cover to help keep it cool. As usual, there was nobody at the water's edge, so we launched and headed down the Ottaquechee River. It was so beautiful. The water was calm like glass, and we glided along, enjoying the serenity and quiet. I could have done it all day, and wanted to see how far we could make it, though at points it was rather shallow. We even got stuck in the mud at one point and had to claw our way out.

We were told to keep an eye out for beavers, eagles, and herons, though we only saw herons, which were really cool. We didn't see any actual beavers, though we saw what looked like their lodgings. They had "No Vacancy" signs, however.

We went pretty far down before some individuals, who shall remain unnamed, expressed an interest in heading back. It was getting a bit late, and it even rained a few times. Furthermore, upon heading back, we realized that we had actually gone pretty far down river, because the trip back was a bit of a chore.

I did notice that leaving is easier and more enjoyable than coming back. When you head out, there is no destination and there is the element of the unknown that makes it enjoyable. You have nowhere to be, so you can peacefully glide down the river without feeling any need to hurry.

On the way back, however, the sudden knowledge of a destination seems to change everything. You become painfully aware of distances, and I found myself working harder in the knowledge that we had so far to go. It made it less enjoyable, and this could be my imagination, but it seemed like more work going back, even in lieu of the fact that we were heading downstream.

Somewhere in that scenario is an analogy for life, but I'll get back to you later on that one.

In the meantime, thanks for reading.

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