Wednesday, June 5, 2013

In the Good River

I put in at the town of Avon onto the Farmington River, having found my way, or at least the last 20 miles, by trial and error, a skill that I am raising to an art form due to Connecticut's trait of providing a sign pointing you towards your destination and then leaving you on your own to guess at the next 15 possible turns that you can make.  "If you have to ask, you're not from here."

Recent rains have raised the river, not to a flood stage, but it is high water.  There is a deep and steady "two to one current"...2 hours up, one hour back.

It is a good river.  It runs 60 yards wide and I don't know how deep it is, but it feels deep and I never strike a paddle tip on the bottom.  There are no sandbars on the insides of bends to slow the current.  The banks are lined with full growth trees - maple, oak, horse chestnut, sycamore and tulip poplar.  Ferns and a fine crop of poison ivy are common in the underbrush.  The river doesn't meander.  Instead, it makes a slight bend to one direction and then the other, and then the other... 

At one of those bends, six belted kingfishers leave there perches, one at a time, on the inside of the curve. But, this river's strength is in its sameness.  Small details appear, and there is a house here or there (I can count the total on my fingers) but the overall view rounding each bend is the same as the one before.  That is the goodness of it...the confirmation that nature has no written guarantee to entertain us with constantly changing dramatic landscapes.  It shows us that something else is the boss, that the game is not what we often believe it to be.  It gives the mind, the heart, and the soul time to not focus.  It is the closest that I get to meditation, and it probably qualifies in full at that.

At a bit over two hours, I press on to round the bend up ahead, if only to prove to myself that there is yet another bend ahead and that the current doesn't suddenly change direction.  I turn.  The return trip is less diligent, but it still works out to an hour.  As I prepare to portage the canoe, I slip off the bank.  I put my feet down and they go down and down until I am bobbing in my life vest between shore and the canoe without finding bottom...  an interesting design for the town's canoe launch.