Sunday, April 6, 2014

Adopted by the River


My memory is clear about the first time I went out on the river. This goes back to the early 1970’s when my father arranged with the owner of the house he bought to take those among our family for a boat cruise.

Mr. Arbuckle pulled away from the boathouse at 13 Windsor at the bottom of the bluff in what I recall was about a twenty-foot wooden powerboat. I think passing Cherry Island under outboard motor power heading south puncturing a course through the maze of islands on this craft was prophetic. This first boat ride was different since the air seemed special on the water along with the spray that would blind side the senses. The boat was low to the water surface and the chop caused by the thermal breeze kept a beat over the gunnels creating a natural shower and cooling agent under the intense sunlight. The sunlight on the river as most boaters know sends rays from the sky and also reflects rays from the water surface. This dual sun impact is another marvel for those under way on their water sleds. A 360 degree natural tanning bed which is uniquely understood for mariners and reason to use protective skin lotion on days when the sun is full bore.

The St. Lawrence River is about eight miles wide from Gananoque on the North side to Clayton in the USA on the south. A vast area on the Canadian side is peppered with islands of all sizes. On the first outing back in the seventies onboard Mr. Arbuckle’s boat we were advised about some of the hazards on the water. The first mariner rule was to be sure not to get lost. 
The second rule was to be aware of rocks under the surface and to understand the code of navigation. One memory peg which perhaps prevented a few bottoming outs was the mariners rule... ‘North of the Black south of the Red”. This statement was about reading the markers placed strategically out there in patterns to give boaters a path of guideposts to get around without sinking. Basic rules of navigation need to be understood including a sense of orientation about the natural flow of this mega artery always moving eastward bound. Flowing to a universal rhythm in concert with the rising of the sun and moon. The river water eventually moving past the archipelago off Gananoque, eventually draining over time into the Atlantic.

The voyage on Mr. Arbuckle’s powerboat was the first touch point for me on the St. Lawrence River. Access to this remarkable place is hard to categorize with words. The magnetic energy for those who come to this vast water world could be compared to a unique covenant that is appreciated and addictive among river dwellers.


Time on the St. Lawrence River remains formative for me, experiencing the magnificent natural ecology especially voyages with navigators both family and friends. 

3 comments:

Bluff Dwellers said...

You have eloquently articulated my heart-felt sentiments about living in this wonderful area. Thank you for providing the words for me.

Paul Harding

Steve Richardson said...

The river is truly a healthy addiction. Its grasp is lifelong.

suzanne grant said...

I enjoyed that