Friday, September 15, 2017


My friend, A, posed a question last night, "When you feel like you've lost your wildness, what do you do to find it again?"  What a great seed for thoughts.

The Scantic is 40 some miles of narrow meandering eastern forest river.  I've paddled the same few miles up near the top many times, a mill pond start, a creek sized river, a nice tnagled beaver pond, and more creek sized river.  And, I've been a few hundred yards into the mouth, until a massive log jam made it un-fun.  Today, I located an access somewhere in the middle.
The middle Scantic
I put in under the small bridge.  It's a genuine water access spot...has room to park, but getting down to the water is a bit of a scramble with a canoe on the shoulders. Then, I use my tried and true rule of exploring rivers, paddle upstream first.  It is quite full of downed trees, but some kind souls have cut passage through most of the trouble spots.  I will not go far on the map, this type of river is meanders within the straight lines anywhere.

Almost immediately I have to wade a couple gravel bars.  But, the river looks good as long as I don't have to do that every couple hundred yards.  Trees shade the water, which is cool and clear, the river is cut down ten feet into the banks and except for right at the start there are no houses in sight.  I decide to head up for two hours and then return.
1 hour and 55 minutes out.
Wildness?  I told A that I don't think she has lost her wildness, she just wasn't using it.  My own definition of wildness, because we all have to have our own definition, pertains to my connection to nature.  Two or three canoe trips back, a heron croaked in complaint when I flushed it.  I few seconds later I realized that I had croaked back at it, an instant and unplanned response that, once I thought about it,  I was rather proud of.   Putting myself in wild surroundings is how I create my own sense of wildness.  These are places where I am unimportant, small... places where I do not command, rule, lord over, places where I am to some extent at the mercy of nature.  These are places where I have to deal with whatever comes.  These are places where I most perceive that "nature always wins".  There were times in my life when I lost that wild sense, times when I became a cog in the machine, when I drank someone else's KoolAid.  But, whenever I returned to sanctuary of wild, the wildness came up from within.  I suppose that wildness moments get so etched into your spirit that you can never lose them.  At worst they are just waiting to be rekindled.

I pass under one bridge a bit more than halfway out.  After that the water is faster, running more often over rocky shelves, a bit more wading on the upstream, but I'll probably coast most of them on the down.  Just short of two hours I come to a big bank to bank log jam.  Taking a photo I deftly flick my prescription sunglasses into the river.  Then I deftly leap out of the canoe into thigh deep water to keep the canoe from drifting...wait for the surface to go smooth and the silt to flush.  It takes a few seconds to spot the dark oval lenses and pick them off the bottom.  Time to go.

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