We put the canoe in downstream of the bridge on the small tree lined river, which is flowing just a bit faster than it was the last time I was here with runoff from recent rainfall. But, this time S is with me, her first time here, but only my second.
I've often had her practice the draw stroke, a sideways paddle stroke that pulls the canoe laterally towards the paddle. After the ordinary forward stroke, it is the most important paddle stroke that a bowman can learn. A good bowman can get a canoe out of a lot of trouble with a proper application of a draw stroke. Out in the open where she usually plays with that technique, it never sinks in. She pries when she should be drawing, she draws in the wrong direction, and she has to relearn it every time we go out. Sometimes people don't learn unless they need to learn, and a good draw in an open pond is just that - something that doesn't need to be learned.
We drop downstream the third of a mile to the confluence with the Farmington, just to satisfy my own curiosity. Then, we turn and head back upstream. The Pequabuck turns about as tight as anything. At each meander the current grabs the bow and pushes it away from the turn, until S grabs it with her drawstroke and claws us back in line. A couple of misfires run us into overhanging branches or up against the bank, but it starts to come together. She eventually does a few draws without having to be prompted. That is good.
We wade the riffles at the second bridge, finding a downed tree spanning the river, but high enough to pass under with feet to spare. The strainer there is still nothing to mess with and I tell S we will probably do a bit of the same on the return.
We surprise a deer. And, it surprises us.
A red wing blackbird scolds the hell out us from one side of the bank...as two baby birds go for cover in the brush on the other....look this way!
The red wing blackbird nest that overhangs the river is empty, so I guess it is time for all of the babies to be figuring it out.
A great blue heron flies over.
Two yellow birds that aren't close enough to identify chase each other.
On the return, S seems intent on paddling. So, I let her, as I coast along using my paddle more for steerage. We work on back paddling and pack ferrying...setting up the canoe in the right location as each turn comes. Then, when the time comes, we pivot and float through.
We float through. When you do it right, when the time comes, you float through.
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