A Day on the River

It’s the first hot day this year. Summer had arrived in time for the long weekend, skipping spring. The river is as high as if the dam was in already, carrying all that nice rain we got toward the ocean in a swift stream. A mother duck and her ducklings appear from underneath the deck and start paddling across the river, breasts pointed upstream. Even a quick paddle gets Mama Duck to just drift sideways, which looks like she is defying every law of physics. She thinks it’s ridiculous, too, and flies across the river. Her ducklings are not very good at being airborne yet, therefore I get treated to 8 noisy feather balls flapping their wings and treading water.

Canoes and kayaks dragged out from under the house, and off we go. We are happy that we can get upstream at a reasonable speed. Across the bend, we meet the duck family again. The ducklings are sunbathing, giving off the same impression as cats lazing about. They even open their beaks for wide yawns!

Oops, my paddle caught an eddy, it feels like the blade is in air even though I see it in the water. I’ve got to dig in quickly now, otherwise the canoe will get turned and we land in the bushes. Upstream, the water gets calmer. My favorite sunning tree is still there, wedged in a bit higher but not carried away by the winter floods yet. Plenty of barn swallows dive through the air. It’s warming up, off come the T-Shirts to feel the sunshine on the shoulders. Did I splash water on you? Sorry 😉 Two dragonflies are on mating flight, locked onto each other forming a iridescent blue stick floating over the bow for a few minutes.

We are paddling really hard now, at least relative to the water. Relative to the people watching us on from the beach, we are standing perfectly still. Einstein and my high school physics teacher flash across my mind while we get some friendly teasing from kayakers coming downstream. I decide to jump out and drag the canoe upriver along the shallow beach. I love my Vibram KSOs, no problems walking across the pebbles. At the upper end of the beach, I hop in the canoe again. Later, we float by two kayakers with a dog on their bow. The dog looks quite interested to jump ship, but doesn’t.

After 1.5 hours of paddling upstream we all are thoroughly tired out and stop by the pebble beach just across from the Korbel Winery. It looks like one of their vineyards is going to loose some ground to the river very soon. I get some teasing about running around in a bikini and Vibrams, and we end up shooting some modeling pictures for their catalog (not).

Time to float downriver now to be home in time for the birthday party at Applewood Inn. We would not want to miss the tasting menu! I find paddling downstream harder than going upstream. Just as with rowing, the paddles don’t have the same “grip” on the water. In the faster sections of the river, we just let the boats float and steer. I spot the mother of all turtles sunning herself next to some ducks. Hey, birds developed from reptiles, why not share a log with distant cousins? People are still on the beaches, throwing footballs, playing with their dogs, paddling the river, partying.

Getting the big canoe out on the dock and up the path to the house is hard work. The kayaks are much easier to handle. I am thoroughly sore from the morning swim workout and three hours on the river, but happy as a turtle and very ready for a good meal. With a it of luck it won’t be foggy tonight, and the evening will be warm enough for me to hang out on the dock to serenade the river with my native american flute. I’ve scored the deck hammock & two blankets for sleeping quarters tonight, too! Not that there was much competition – just my luck that most people don’t have a clue how wonderful a Starlit Night can be.

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