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Taking the Canoes for a Ride

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I had one day free this one week, one day when I might possibly call Shila up (who also had one day free that week) and load the canoes in the car and take them out on the water. It was the day we were to leave for Akron, where we’d catch a flight to Massachusetts the next morning. But I had a few free hours to rub together, and Shila and I were itching to get both canoes, newly legal with their big ugly numbers, out for a paddle.

Never one to shoot low, I decided I wanted to explore an arm of Seneca Lake, a mere hour north of home. The skies were gray on wakeup, and the clouds got thicker as the morning progressed. I looked at Intellicast weather—big fat green front, spangled with yellow and pink—covering most of central Ohio and racing toward us. It’s the only day we have. It’ll have to do. I got the kids on the bus, threw the canoes, seats, paddles and lifejackets in the car, tied the back hatch down, called Shila, and met her at a filling station. She jumped in the car, and we were off. I was accelerating up to speed on I-77 when the first raindrops hit the windshield.

Shila and I started laughing, which is mostly what we do when we’re together anyway. We kept going toward Seneca. Maybe it’d stop. The day would be what it would be.

I wasn’t crazy about the idea of rain coming up off the highway and into the back of my Explorer, but I liked that idea better than tying the stupid things on top and watching them waggle their way free in the 65-mile-per-hour wind. The car might get wet. Big deal.

The rain picked up as we found the first possible put-in place. We laughed some more and decided that this would be a reconnaissance mission, a way to explore the perimeter of Seneca Lake, and find all the best put-in’s. And, Shila and Zick being who we are, it would also be a photo safari, an exploration of low light, mist and its effect on fall foliage. Or something like that. We started shooting pictures.There aren’t many draft horses left in the United States, and we owe much to the Amish for keeping the knowledge of how to work and care for them. Speaking of vanishing things, how many more rains will this Mail Pouch barn sign withstand? Mail Pouch isn’t repainting barns any more, and people who want to preserve this iconic advertisement must maintain it themselves. A tableau of disappearing beauty: draft horses, Mail Pouch barn, and a hayrake.Hayrolls in the rain. Jim McCormac has told me, once or twice, that the Department of Agriculture is going to outlaw round hay bales, because the cows can’t get a square meal any more. Hee haw.

A log cabin. More vanishing beauty.Beauty that thrives everywhere: Poison ivy.The vine-draped windows of an abandoned house. I hate to see a house abandoned, but the phoebes and barn swallows, squirrels, coons and mice don’t. Where would you start pulling poison ivy off this house? At the bottom, or the top?The rain poured down. Shila donned her featherweight, fashionable plastic raincoat, which should probably not be used as a toy for babies.

This is Zick, discovering that the extra camera battery she so conscientiously brought is also dead. Just as we found this creeper-smothered barn. Arrrrrggh. End of safari. Photo by Shila Wilson.

We were glad we brought the canoes along for the ride, because they would have been lonely at home. Note nice big legal numbers, just the right size and color to spook waterbirds.To be continued...

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