July 2. 2018
It was one of those perfect summer weekends – blue skies and endless shades of green, so we headed for the river. But don’t assume that just because Jon and Theodore and I travelled in the same canoe, we were on the same river.
For Jon, everything important happens in the water. He has memorized our river’s many turns, often standing to stern the canoe while delivering a running commentary on all creatures for whom the river is home. He is the first one to see the beaver quietly slipping back in, the solitary brown trout ducking into cover or a crowd scene of young crayfish scatter when they sense a shadow.
Theodore, who barely peeks over the gunnel, has slowly begun to enjoy paddling. Mind you, he didn’t have Jewell’s advantages. If you remember, she had been carefully introduced to the canoe because she was a lady; we pulled it up onto the shore one morning and began by filling it with cushions and books; Jon and I climbed in, and spent the day reading while she waited suspiciously outside on the grass. The next day, she climbed in and we spent the day as before. But the day after that, we launched the canoe and forever after that, Jewell ran to the boathouse when she heard the word “paddle.” Not that she did, of course. In deference to his gender, Theodore (being a boy’s boy) was simply placed in the canoe and off we went. When he showed his displeasure by jumping out we simply paddled away and let him back into the canoe a hundred yards down river. Naturally, he doesn’t contribute to the paddling either. He contents himself with reprising Jewell’s Queen of the Nile role, simply sitting in the royal barge like a monarch and waving to the odd duck.
My role in this weird trio is a heck of a lot more demanding. While taking photos to paint in the winter, bow paddling and watching for rocks, I remain in charge of all fauna above the surface. Yes, it is an unfair burden. Thank you for noticing. But I was the one who spotted a gleaming green heron, caught a glimpse of a merganser skimming along the surface, and had a good look at turk’s-cap lilies in full bloom. And who didn’t show up but my beloved “Ancient #2,” and the perfect maple “On the Bend!” It was like Old Home Week.
Some days couldn’t be more perfect if they tried. This one certainly didn’t have to.