posts tagged with 'boating'
The solstice this year was busy with celebrations: our community group's little party Harvey on Friday evening, two big parties for friends Saturday, and an end-of-the-year picnic at Church mid-day Sunday. Luckily, the Town of Concord scheduled solstice festivities for Sunday afternoon starting at one, so by hurrying we were able to get to the Old North Bridge in time to see mid-summer greeted in style!
Besides the solstice, we were also celebrating the Concord River and its tributaries, so the party was called Riverfest. It's happened for a few years now, but this is the first time we managed to make it—and now that we did, I'm sorry to have missed it before! So many fun things there. We started off making some art; Harvey was feeling grumpy, but the woman running the art table was so energetic and encouraging she drew him out of his funk, and once launched he worked on his project for quite a while. Lijah doesn't have patience for long-term projects, and after a few minutes he decided he wanted to get his face painted. I was amazed and proud to see him handle the whole thing, from standing in line to telling the young woman what he wanted to be (a white bunny) all by himself! The transformation was startling.
Next we listened to (and participated in!) some river-themed kids music. When that wrapped up we went for a little canoe trip downstream... but not very far downstream, because the current was running fast and we didn't want to work too hard on the way back! It felt very companionable with dozens of boats out on the river. Most of them weren't even taking any part in Riverfest, but that didn't mean they were enjoying the river any less! When we got back to the bridge the boys all went for a swim—even Harvey, who chose not to bring a swimsuit along on the trip. Never mind, the sun was hot!
Then it was time for the most exciting part of the afternoon, the cardboard boat race. As tempted as I was to sign us up as participants, I though it would be more prudent to watch one year before jumping right in. So we spent a relaxing hour wandering among the busy teams of cardboard crafters and eating snacks. I think we learned some things about what it takes to get cardboard to float. As the race itself kicked off, we certainly witnessed plenty of examples of what not to do!
As we talked about the festival in the days leading up to the solstice Mama decided that, all in all, it sounded like a little much to her. But as dinner time approached things were pretty calm, so I invited her to join us for dinner (plus, she could bring Harvey some dry clothes!). Some friends showed up just a little later, so the nine of us shared a peaceful picnic while listening to some lovely bluegrass/country/oldies played by an acoustic trio. Well, it was peaceful for the adults and Harvey... the four smaller boys entered into some freewheeling—and occasionally violent!—play with the other young picnickers.
As it started to get dark, the festival organizers started up a fire. While it wasn't totally the solstice bonfire I'd been anticipating, it was plenty big enough to toast the marshmallows they'd thoughtfully provided for smores. The boys wished there was enough to have more than one, but it was a pretty good-sized crowd.
The day concluded with a solstice singalong on the Old North Bridge, while those of us with boats paddled around beneath with candle lanterns glowing. Plus the bubble guy was there to make the atmosphere even more magical. What do you sing at a solstice singalong in Concord, MA? Some Beatles, a couple tunes from Hair, "This Land is Your Land"... stuff like that. As it got dark at last you could even start to see the lanterns.
Then we turned for home. The boys have fallen asleep in the car lots of times; this was the first time they ever did in the boat. We celebrated the heck out of that solstice!
I love living in a four-season climate. It's just delightful to welcome each change—and few are more delightful than the beginning of warm weather in the spring. We had our first hint of it last week, and we grabbed it with both hands. Saturday was the warmest. It was great to see everyone outside: playing on playgrounds, walking, cycling. Us, we walk and ride bikes all year round, so when it gets hot that's not how we want to bust out. No, what we did Saturday morning was get out on the water!
I had smugly expected to be the only one hardy to want to be out on the river in March, but there were three other cars at the boat launch: three other people passionate about their boating. Not that all four of us Archibalds were equally passionate. Harvey and Zion would have been ok playing with friends on our street, and Lijah seems sometimes to wish boats were never invented. That's because he's too little to paddle, so he gets bored, and when he gets bored he gets hungry, and when we run out of food he gets angry... but then, that's true any time so we might as well deal with his moods while floating peacefully down the wide Concord River.
It's wider than usual too, after a wet winter. We didn't go far—there were friends to play with at home after all—but we did manage to explore the marshes beyond the river banks, which is a uniquely springtime experience. And we only got stuck once, on the branches of partially submerged bushes, and nobody had to swim to get us free. We also landed on what, last year, we dubbed Mosquito Island; this early is the perfect time to explore it, since we didn't see a single one of the eponymous beasties.
The whole trip wasn't much longer than an hour (and the rest of the day saw plenty of running and jumping and even water balloons) but it was a great first outing. Here's to lots more in the next few months!
After a few practice runs taking our new canoe out on ponds, we felt ready to take on the Concord River. The trial run on Zion's birthday was a little rough, but Tuesday we mobilized the whole family for another go—with rather more success. You can see from the picture above that we've made some improvements to our fine vessel, the Green Gecko; the tent is essential to keep the sun off the cargo on these bright spring days.
Leah borrowed a kayak from friends so she could join us (and also took the morning off from work). Her boat goes faster than ours, but she was kind enough to wait up when we got too far behind.
In Bedford the river feels hugely wide, but upriver into Concord it narrows significantly, and it felt more like river boating as we navigated the twists and turns. The current was much more noticeable in the confines space too, and navigating around all the fallen trees in the water was exciting!
Our goal was the Old North Bridge, but as we made our creeping way upstream it became clear we weren't going to make it—especially since we needed to be back home for the next scheduled event safely before 3:00. Still, we couldn't go all that way without finding somewhere to go to. The Great Meadows bird sanctuary was a great consolation prize, and we had a pleasant picnic lunch on a bench by the riverbank. Then we explored a little. Just like last time we were there, the highlight was playing in the fords.
After lunch we went a little further upstream before we hit our cut-off time, and turned around. It's a good thing the current was helping us along on the homeward trip, because we wouldn't have made it otherwise: our arms were about ready to fall off! The kids didn't work quite as hard, but after over three hours in the boat they well earned their riverside playtime back at the boat launch.
Since we were disappointed of the bridge Tuesday, Thursday the boys and I put in upstream on the Sudbury River and paddled down to it, with a brief excursion a little ways up the Assabet River. We were excited to make it to what felt like a fabled destination, though sadly my camera ran out of batteries so I wasn't able to capture our triumph. Even sadder because the light was beautiful as the morning's sunshine gave way to threatening overcast; overcast that threatened us right back upriver after just a few minutes play at the bridge (since we've been to the bridge by car and bicycle hundreds of times, the exciting part about this visit was tying up to a real dock at the Old Manse boathouse).
Both wind and current were against us as we headed back to the car. The wind was so strong we had to take down the tent, but that was fine since it was about as dark as night anyways. Harvey and I were a little concerned. Lijah, on the other hand, is now totally used to being in the boat, and lurched happily from side to side to lean over and put his hand in the water. It was easier when he was terrified! He even put in a good long stretch of "helping" with a paddle of his own (Harvey was very kind and patient to not throw him overboard).
I thought the whole trip was pretty quick, but when we got back to the car I found that it had been well over two hours. Oops! Time flies when you're on the water. It was great fun, but after all that work I think we all deserve a quiet, boating-free weekend.
As I mentioned, we bought a canoe. Then we had to wait while we procured paddles, life jackets, and some means of carrying the canoe to the water (in the meantime we played with it on land). All those objectives were achieved by this morning, so in the middle of the day we took a trip out to Walden Pond to see if it floats. It does!
We've been to the pond hundreds of times, but none of those trips were as exciting as this one. From the dangerously steep, rutted lane down to the boat launch and the violent rocking of the boat as Zion and Lijah stepped aboard for the first time it was clear that this was a new level of adventure. The smaller boys, who didn't have paddling to distract them, were pretty nervous at first; Lijah especially looked like he wanted to kiss the sand at our first stop, on the other side of the pond. There, the boys explored for a few minutes and we had a picnic lunch. After about half an hour of paddling all around the pond, though, even Lijah was starting to get used to the motion. Then, as the sun broke through the clouds, we completed our circumnavigation and approached the old familiar beach—but so different, seen for the first time from the sea! Also there was nobody else there.
The boys ran around a lot and swam a little, while I lay in the sun and thought about how lovely it is to be alive (and also some about Pokemon). Then they put the boat back in the water and experimented to see how tippy it really is. It's pretty stable, actually, but if you really want it to go over it sure will! I think it made them feel a little bit better about this whole boating business. Harvey, certainly, was emboldened enough to try a short solo voyage of his own!
Harvey tells me it was a the best adventure we've ever done. Here's to lots more—even better!—in the months to come.
A moment from the week.
This Labor Day weekend we were lucky enough to be offered an all-expenses-paid trip to a New Hampshire lakeside, in order to celebrate the wedding of our friends Sara and Josh. Uncle Tom and Aunt Nellie had a cabin in the wedding camp, and we didn't have to be asked twice to drop by.
Usually when they see water the boys jump right in, but here the boats were a potent distraction.
Harvey did great on his second time on a boat, and then also on his third, fourth, fifth... etc. I was glad to head out with him each time. Zion wasn't sure about being out on the water, but he loved the miracle of buoyancy, which let him push his big brother around.
Then it was on to the wedding itself, which was also outside.
It took some climbing to get up to the site of the ceremony, but the view at the top was worth it—as encouraging home-made signs along the way proclaimed.
Outside weddings are well suited to our children's temperaments. Harvey could get some private time when he needed.
Zion distracted himself by lying down and kicking his feet in the dirt. It was dry enough that the dust brushed right off.
The reception was back down the hill by the lodge. After a little acclimation (and a lot of hors d'oeuvres) Harvey jumped right into socializing.
Those two were well matched, and spent a happy hour carrying dirt, swinging sticks, and knocking each other down. But even new best friends were no competition for cousins.
After hours of partying we started to feel bad for Rascal and made an early exit, unfortunately before pie but just in time to get on the road to our hotel while there was still a bit of light.
Good thing because there's no cell reception up there so navigation was by paper map, and there were some wrong turns in the empty wild darkness before we found our way to refuge at the Best Western in Mt. Sunapee. Relative refuge, at least, because fireworks and a loud party—with bonfire!—right outside our window kept us mostly awake until about 1:30: in solidarity, it turns out, with the folks back at the wedding who similarly partied long into the night.
This prejudiced us against the place a little bit, but Harvey—who slept through all the commotion—was thrilled in the morning both by the big tv and the complimentary continental breakfast. I would have taken some more pictures but my camera ran out of batteries moments after the sunset shot above; and forgetting my charger meant that I couldn't document our second day of boating and lakeside relaxation, supplemented by a second breakfast-slash-lunch courtesy of the wedding establishment. It was all great fun, and it felt much longer than the 31 hours we were actually away from home.