Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Paddling with a partner today.

I had a partner today. Gabe, my son, and I have paddled many interesting and fun waterways together. All told, we have probably logged about 250 miles together on the Farmington, the Housatonic in western Connecticut, and up in the Adirondacks last summer for a weeklong trip from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake. He is a great canoe partner. I count myself lucky to have had many great bow people over the years. Through the tough portages and unpredictable white water along with laughs during more relaxing times on flat water floats, it has all been grand.

I asked Gabe to come with me today so that we could explore an area of the river bank that must have served as a dump for one of the local farms. Along a stretch of shore about three hundred yards long one can find an array of old rusted wheels, bed frames, buckets, and other non-descript items that have been corroded past the point of any collectible value. The real find in the shallows, covered with silt, but still awaiting discovery, are dozens of old bottles. Within a span of about one hour, in fading evening light, Gabe and I pulled out about two dozen intact bottles of varying vintages.

It was a great pleasure to see Gabe become so interested in this type of adventure. Beyond the thrill of finding a bottle that is not cracked or broken and which can be quite old, the real attraction is the potential history lesson that comes up from the river bottom with each piece. With a little time and effort scrubbing the years of silt and algae deposits from the glass surface, I should have a fairly interesting and worthy collection of glassware from fifty to one hundred years old.

I am intrigued by the history of that farm and plan to delve deeper into the mystery by checking some documents at the local historical society offices. The river had a very different look and feel one hundred or so years ago and it will flavor my journeys considerably if I am better informed about the unique characteristics of spaces that hold the river in place. Today the river was made lively by the presence of my wonderful son and our mutual interest in the bottle hunting and in good idle humor to fill the spaces between paddle strokes. People make these meetings with the river just as interesting and exciting as the flora and fauna that are a constant surprise with each paddle.

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