Entries in kayaking (11)


Paddling to Nowhere

The DEC launch, located beneath route 481 in northern New York, clanked and rattled with the movement of traffic overhead. A pick up with an empty trailer parked to the side. A sign advised us to clean our boats of invasive species. Like every boat launch in the country (it seems) a man sat in a white Buick, watching the water go by. And watching me put my boat in the water.

I write “the water” because at the point I was slipping my boat into the calm river I did not know the name of the Oneida river. I noted the launch site on my map, and as I drove home from a lovely visit to a writing class in Oswego, decided to make a short paddle stop. I didn’t know where this river ran or what I would see. In this way I concoct small adventures.

I struck out to the east. The river divided and I chose the left fork. Houses lined the water, docks allowing easy access for small motorboats.  The river was about one-hundred and fifty yards wide. I paddled down the middle, flushing mallards and a stray great blue heron that loitered on the far shore from the houses. The river felt intimate and calm and I wondered at these hundred or so people who got to live there, watching the river shift along: what did they see? No one was home, though I wished for someone to appear so I could ask where this river led, what this river is called.


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