the original kStyle blog.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Water, Water, Everywhere

This May is like a moody teenager. It began raining on a Sunday. For eleven solid days it either rained or drizzled with brief little breaks, not of sun, but of overcast skies without precipitation, for maybe an hour or so. Soon the news showed scenes of flooding throughout New Hampshire and the Massachusetts coast above Boston, an area known to locals as the North Shore. The normally sedate Merrimac River became a white-water ride through old mill towns. Peabody town square was completely submerged. In many towns, homes were destroyed (though not carried away), basements were flooded, and a man with a print shop in Peabody lost all of his equipment--over $100,000's worth. The people grew cranky.

I sat in my office basking in a full-spectrum bulb normally reserved to augment winter's short daylight, but equally useful in a rainy May. I was cheerful; this angered my coworkers. I invited them to share in the faux sunlight in my office. (To me, living in the cold, wintery North without a sun lamp is as silly as living here without a winter coat.)

The sun returned on Thursday. That was the day I became pissy. Though the light bulb had kept me relatively content, and although each day I'd bravely donned raingear to stroll around the block at noontime, I was feeling caged up. I spent the day mentally whining at the window like a trapped puppy, longing to commune with the blue skies and green green green grass. Also, as soon as the pollen was free to run wild, unhindered by heavy rain, I became a sneezing, itchy-eyed, hoarse mess.

I forced myself to sit obediently at my desk, checking page proofs and making mix CDs through Friday. Saturday dawned, partly cloudy and oh-so-windy. It wasn't a storybook-lovely day, but I needed, with a primal instinct, to be on a river. I skipped my two-hour tai chi class and the hour of commuting to it and the other hour of commuting from it. G was at his brother's college graduation, a two-hour drive one way from our home. I'd bowed out weeks in advance, citing my tai chi studies and the fact that C doesn't much care for ceremony and would barely notice my absence. Both proved true.

Normally, I'm a canoer, but because I was alone, I would rent a single-person kayak. I drove with great anticipation to the South Bridge Boat House. This is the primest boat rental real estate around. It sits on the lovely Sudbury River in historic Concord. Putting in at the boathouse, you can follow the winding Sudbury north, past the long backyards of grand historic homes, past the geese teaching their fuzzy chicks to swim and, later in the season, the painted turtles stacked atop each other to reach sunlight, and, if you're lucky, past a heron or a wakeful raccoon. You'll paddle through the backyard of the scenic Concord Academy, through the junction of the Sudbury and Concord Rivers, where Native Americans once lived, and finally, you'll reach a wooden bridge: Old North Bridge, the shining gem of Minuteman National Historic Park, the famed location of the "shot heard 'round the world" at the dawn of American independence. There's a shallow little beach here, really just a patch of sand, where you can take out your canoe. Then you're free to stroll around the historic park and munch on a picnic lunch, if you brought one. You can simply enjoy the scenery or, if you're feeling curious, note the fauna and flora, or, if you're feeling deep, you can contemplate the fiercely independent spirit of the colonists, or the massacre of tribes who rightfully tended this land. If it's high summer, you can also think contemptuously about the throngs of tourists practically mooing and bleating in a herdlike stupor. Your choice. (I usually go the flora route.)

So you can see I was very excited to reach the boathouse. I carefully locked a few things in my trunk, taking with me only what I needed for a nice couple of hours on the river. I looked across the street from the dirt parking lot to the shabby temple of my dreams, only to see a black sign with aggressively orange letters reading Sorry, We're CLOSED. It couldn't be! I darted across the street undaunted. Rounding the corner to the boat rental area, I saw that the river was swollen beyond recognition. Usually, coming from the boathouse, one paddles under South Bridge, a few yards away. Yesterday there were barely two feet of space between the water and the stone arches. The boat house dock was submerged, the river was twice its normal width, and she was moving fast. I stood for a moment with the boathouse staff, a young man and presumably his father, gazing in disbelief at the normally placid Sudbury. The young man told me that the current was too strong to let anyone on the river. Earlier that day, a sailboat had become stuck on South Bridge, and it took three men several hours to bring it back. He reassured me they'd be open again next weekend.

Next: Does kStyle get to kayak? Stay tuned...


Anonymous Larry Jones said...

OK, I've never felt one those urges to get out on the water, so I may not be experienced enough to even say what I think about this, and yes, I am curious to know whether you did go, but in general I think that, given the circumstances, I should mention DON'T GO OUT ON THE RIVER!!!! Need I say that this is a no brainer?

Anxiously awaiting Part Two.

1:30 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I'm still trying to figure out why you'd pave a river....Oh, LA!

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Larry Jones said...

There's an old saying here in Southern California (two weeks old if it's a day): "When in doubt, pour concrete."

3:38 PM  

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