For my birthday in 1998, Jack bought me a canoe. We lived in Massachusetts, in a fairly rural area south of Boston known as the South Shore. We lived in a 300-year-old house with five fireplaces, situated about ten feet from the South River, when it was just a baby. More a stream there than a river. I was a conservation commissioner in our town, so I got out and about to conservation lands and lands that were to be protected.
We loved to go canoeing, to rent a canoe on the Charles River, the Concord, the North River, and the South River. But since we moved to Philadelphia, I've had to store my canoe at my niece's in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and then at another niece's in Bucks County. We also no longer had our Land Rover D90, the kind of country workhorse that could easily carry a 16' canoe or plow through 4' of snow. And in PA, you have to buy a launch permit for non-motorized boats to legally put in at any state parks.
However, we finally found a roof rack that would fit our small car, bought a launch permit, and headed off to Lake Nockamixon, about 15 minutes from my niece's farm. Autumn is the perfect time to canoe. Mid week means fewer people.
Lake Nockamixon is huge, about 5, 200 acres. No boats with motors greater than 20 hp are allowed, although we were rocked a bit by the wake from a motor boat. Even small motors can create wake.
The day was perfect. I was nervous at first because I can't swim. My family's thinking was that if you stay out of the water, you won't drown. My father could swim but my mother could not. My sister can swim. So I guess we split down the middle. I always were my PFD (Personal Floatation Device) and Jack used to be a lifeguard, so I feel reasonably safe. But I'm still afraid of all the lake monsters that live where you can't see them. And, so far, I'm only willing to paddle along the shore.
The leaves were turning, the fish were leaping, damselflies were flitting, and a great blue heron flew from a tree, screaming at us for invading its space. It was peaceful and magical. Stress drained away.