We woke up to the first sun we’ve had since arriving up north, a very welcome thing! packed up camp and headed to the next landing so as to avoid a small bit of the river that even the DNR warns is tricky to navigate, figuring it would be good to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s adventure. the idea was for Mac and I to split the day’s paddling, so Mac put in and had an untroubled run to the next landing, and then I suited up and put in for what we planned as a quick four mile stint to the next landing, Pine Point. we met Andy and Bettina, who were heading out for the same patch of river, and Andy warned us about the part after Pine Point landing, which he and the DNR agree is really tough to navigate. so the plan was that Mac and Richard and I would all meet at Pine Point landing, pull out, and head to Bemidji for internet and laundry and a night in a motel. cool.
so I get in and start paddling and pass Andy and Bettina and the man I assume was Andy’s dad (I didn’t meet him properly) and say goodbye, and it’s really great out, sunny and warm, and I strip down to my bathing suit and I’m happily paddling away, and I pass what I think might be Hennepin Creek, marked on the map, and I keep paddling, and I keep paddling, and I don’t see Pine Point. there IS no Pine Point. and I keep going and going, and the wind comes up and it gets overcast, and I put my shirt and lifejacket back on, and at one point I begin to think I am paddling around in circles, but I know that’s simply not possible, because I am always heading downstream, and at another point the wind is coming straight at me and the tops of the reeds are blowing upstream and the only way I can know I’m going downstream is by looking at the underwater reeds, which always do point in the direction of the current, and I keep paddling, and by now I’m sure I made a wrong turn and I’m on Hennepin Creek, and I look at the map and there is a bridge over Hennepin Creek about six miles down so I figure I’ll pull out there and flag down a car, and I’m working hard not to fret about how much the guys will be worrying about me not arriving at Pine Point, and I just keep paddling, keep losing and finding the channel in this reedy swamp, keep getting my hopes up when I get close to a stand of pines, and keep having my hopes dashed, and then suddenly there’s a campsite: Iron Bridge! not four miles, but twelve miles from where I put in! and I’ve made it through the un-navigable part of the river, the part that we had decided to skip! and I’ve done it basically without a map because I thought I was somewhere else entirely! and I feel TOTALLY proud and great about this and simultaneously really worried about Mac and Richard, who are probably completely freaking out that I haven’t yet arrived at Pine Point.
SO I flag down a car, and it’s Maureen, who calls the cops to have them go to Pine Point and tell Mac and Richard to come get me here, and she waits with me til we’re sure the guys are on their way, and she is totally kind and generous and interesting and fun and seems not to be in a rush at all. Maureen, if you read this, THANKS AGAIN for your kindness!!!
so the guys show up and we head into Bemidji for the fabulous Super 8, which feels like a totally luxury hotel: shower, internet, and bed. What more is there?!?
I am loving this blog!
As you know, our dear mother, Joyce, loved Thorton Wilder’s “Our Town”.
In his brilliant play, when Emily must return to her grave as a spirit after visiting the world one last time, she exclaims, “Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you!”
She then asks the Stage Manager, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”
The Stage Manager replies, quietly, “No. Saints and poets maybe–they do some…”
In memory of our wondrous parents, who seemed to be forever searching and travelling, whether in their minds, memory or in other lands, I thought you might like to read a poem which I hope inspires and reassures you in your quest.
To me, these words embody the ultimate journey — through a day, within our world, in our lives and on a river.
I hope you find comfort in it and are empowered by its celebration of joy in the simplest things.
You are carrying on a legacy that I know our parents would cheer and celebrate.
Think of them as you travel, for if you look, I’m sure they are with you, dear Eve.
Song At Sunset
by Walt Whitman
Splendor of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic—hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat—you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.
Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness,
Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection,
Natural life of me, faithfully praising things;
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.
Illustrious every one!
Illustrious what we name space—sphere of unnumber’d spirits;
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even the tiniest insect;
Illustrious the attribute of speech—the senses—the body;
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale reflection on the new moon in the western sky!
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.
Good in all,
In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,
In the annual return of the seasons,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,
In the superb vistas of Death.
Wonderful to depart;
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed—to look on my rose-color’d flesh;
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large;
To be this incredible God I am;
To have gone forth among other Gods—these men and women I love.
Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself!
How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around!
How the clouds pass silently overhead!
How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun, moon, stars, dart on and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!)
How the trees rise and stand up—with strong trunks—with branches and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the tree—some living Soul.)
O amazement of things! even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents—now reaching me and America!
I take your strong chords—I intersperse them, and cheerfully pass them forward.
I too carol the sun, usher’d, or at noon, or, as now, setting,
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and of all the growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.
As I sail’d down the Mississippi,
As I wander’d over the prairies,
As I have lived—As I have look’d through my windows, my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning—As I beheld the light breaking in the east;
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again on the beach of the Western Sea;
As I roam’d the streets of inland Chicago—whatever streets I have roam’d;
Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the sights of war;
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with contentment and triumph.
I sing the Equalities, modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things;
I say Nature continues—Glory continues;
I praise with electric voice;
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe;
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the universe.
O setting sun! though the time has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated adoration.
Online text © 1998-2009 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From Leaves of Grass | 1900
What a wonderful beginning to your journey! I loved reading this. I did some kayaking of my own here in Long Island Sound today and thought of you as I ran into some reeds. Can’t wait to read more!
Whew. I’m really glad I heard about this caper AFTER the fact!