This time last year Mahsa and I were fully ensconced in canoe trip preparations. Our nights were filled with pouring over maps and gear lists; our days filled with practicing canoe strokes and building up endurance. All this planning got us through the Northern Forest Canoe Trail – a 750 mile water way trail from New York to Northern Maine. It was epic. It was amazing. It was life changing. It was all the cliche things that such adventures can be. You can read about the trip and see pictures on our blog – Flora Burn.
The last time Mahsa and I canoed was that wonderful day almost a year ago when we paddled into Fort Kent, Maine after 35 days on the water ways of the great norther forests. It seems silly to think that we hadn’t paddled even a few hours since that day. Life it seems interceded. Snapping us out of our romantic wilderness adventure dreams into the reality of the hustle and bustle work, school and everyday life.
Today though, we found the time to be on the water. We loaded the Flora Burn on the little car and with a cooler full of snacks headed for the Rio Carlos (Charles River). Putting in by the Newton Boat house we paddled upstream for a few hours into the watershed preserve. It was lovely. The large forest fires in northern New England and Quebec made for some very hazing skies, but down on the water, one could barely notice. The banks were lush with green stuff and birds abounded. We stopped for picnic on the way back down stream. Ate way to much fruit salad though. But it was lovely to once again be enjoying river side lunch.
The current isn’t too strong for most of the Charles, so paddling up-stream isn’t hard. But some places, where the river bottoms out the current definitely picks up a bit. One tricky spot found us maneuvering around what we took to be a rather sharp rock. Upon closer examination, however, we found it to be an office chair. Ha! Welcome to the Charles River.
For most of the day we reminisced about our canoe adventure. We recounted the plethora of ridiculous stories that at the time were horrible and heartbreaking. But now, months later have taken on a splendid hilarity of hindsight.
There was the time Mahsa awoke suddenly in the middle of the night afraid that little aliens were trying to collapse our tent. There was the time I sank knee-deep in mud. There was the time that we had to lower our canoe down cliff and the time we only ate walnuts and sardines for dinner.
There were also countless days of beauty like we’ve never seen before. We met amazing locals along they way that taught us about hospitality in a way that was both unexpected and most welcome (especially when caught in a storm on a lake and at risk of capsizing). We learned about rural life in the northern woods, spent time talking with locals about their troubles and what keeps them living the lives they live.
It was phenomenal, despite that time I stepped on a wasp’s nest and got 13 bites and wanted to pass out. There was also the joy of being able to live through it all with your best friend. To spend each day living in the moment with a pal, trying to figure out how the hell you’re going to slog a 16 foot canoe through a bog, up a hill, over an embankment and back down into the water…five times a day.
With all the school and work I’ve got to wallow through this summer and all the work it takes me to muster the energy needed to live in the city I am wistful for the canoe adventure. It would be nice to be in the throws of planning a great water way expedition rather than outlining my next research project or wading through a 150 – 300 pages of reading a week for class, which wouldn’t be that much if it wasn’t for my need to read roughly as many pages if not more in my library of sci-fi and fantasy books. Plus there is work, where I get to not only witness the triumph of truly down trodden people as they overcome illness, addiction and homelessness but I also get to be present with them in their despair. This is not easy – these highs and lows. So, yes. I’d very much like to be preparing for a canoe adventure.
Alas, it is not to be this summer. With the exception of a few trips to here and there I’m staying put. Ah well. It is what it is. There’s always the adventure that comes with ridding my bike to and from work and school each day.