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Canoeing with Phoebe

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

There comes a time in every parent's life, I hope, when you are struck by the wonder that this child you have so carefully raised and taught has suddenly morphed into a friend. That time comes along about when they begin to be able to pull their own weight around the house, offer a fresh perspective on a problem; commiserate and even comfort you. It's the most stunning thing--it's as if you've groomed this creature to understand everything about you, and it suddenly comes of age, wakes up and offers you sage advice, turns the tables on you in a most delightful way.

Phoebe can handle her own canoe now. This is a big deal for me. I adore canoeing alone, but I like having a companion even more. I like teaching Phoebs what I know about paddling and handling a boat, which isn't much, but is enough to get us where we need to go.
She is a quick student, propelling her craft with those spindly little arms. I wore her out, forgetting that mine are somewhat better muscled. Luckily we had calm water and light breezes, and Phoebe went to school on turning and maneuvering her decked canoe. We drew close to shore and Phoebs was transfixed by a bathing blue jay. It's not like a blue jay to bathe where you can watch--they're wary little corvids. But birds aren't threatened by people in canoes, nearly as much as they fear people on foot. Great blue herons are an exception--they know all about watercraft.
Right behind the jay was a great blue heron, preoccupied with his new catch. It looks a bit like a chub. I'm sure there are fishermen who could have told us what it was, but they weren't out on this fine, shiny Saturday afternoon. The Chimp is crestfallen not to have an ID. It's a neat looking fish. If I'd seen it in the Gulf of Mexico, I'd have called it a flying fish. Anyone?
One thing that fish was, was GONE, in short order. Phoebe watched in horrified fascination as it met its death in a herony acid bath.
I never watch herons process their catch but I imagine what it would be like to eat a live fish without benefit of silverware or even hands. Yiccccch.

Watching my girl float, cradled on gentle waters, filled my heart.


Does it get any better than that?

Jared from Denton Texas

Julie, your first paragraph spoke to my heart and gave it a tight squeeze. With the losses of the two most important women in my life this last year, my daughter became my protector. She beacme the one able to read my feelings- better even than my husband. She matured into a fine, strong, caring young woman with tremendous empathy. She became a young woman, it seems, when I wasn't looking. She now is the most important woman in my life. It is simply stunning.

Ohhh....Phoebe! Our girls are growing up and I have such mixed emotions. What joy, I hope you have many, many more canoe trips.

What a sweet, lovely post. Pheobe is a lucky girl.

I loved your description of your relationship with Phoebe now Julie. How great that "the girls" can now have time together doing more grown up things.

What a beautiful peaceful post. (Except for the bit of carnage with the heron and the mystery fish, I guess.) I only hope that my mother has felt that way, that storngly, about me as we have moved through the different phases of our lives.

That was time well spent ... invested actually. I love those moments and the nice thing is they continue even when the youngsters become young adults.


She's beautiful. You're beautiful. This post is beautiful...

As she floats away from you so many times in the future, your bond grows stronger. It really does when sometimes you think you're falling apart.

Thank you for reminding me how much I cherish my daughter, my friend.


Reminds me of a song I used to sing that little flamehead girl:

Her name is Phee Phee and she can...paddle.


Julie, I'm not knowledgeable about fish ID, but could it possibly be a catfish? The "whiskers" and the shape of its head looked like what I've seen on catfish. Anyway, I also wanted to mention how cool it is to have a daughter who becomes your friend. My daughter Red is one of my closest friends. We really enjoy each other's company (most of the time). And she is a much better photographer than I. And it doesn't hurt that she has better equipment, too. ;o) It's cool how moms and daughters can complement each other and I can see that is happening with you and Phoebe. Cool!

Thanks for all the sweet comments, moms and dads.

I have a good fish guy thinking about this and we both agree that it's too slender and not shovel-nosed enough for a catfish, and those projections look more like long pectoral fins than barbules (which come from the mouth). The answer is Out There.

Your fish guy will know better than me, but with the deeply forked and pointed tail plus apparently slender body, the fish looks to me like a rainbow smelt, unfortunately an exotic. I don't know where you and Paddlin' Madeline were, but rainbow smelt are now found in the Ohio River drainage and in large numbers around Lake Erie.

Gahanna, I'm likin' the rainbow smelt guess. We were at Wolf Run near Caldwell, Ohio. It's a reservoir, as are all the navigable lakes in SE Ohio. If exotic it be, let it digest!

Well, "exotic" is relative. They were found mostly in the northeast, but have spread widely and somewhat unpredictably. According to the great oracle Google, they were almost unknown in the Ohio River as late as 1986, but incredibly numerous in Lake Erie. In the Finger Lakes of NY. where I grew up, people gathered them literally by the bushel basket in the Spring and had been doing so since anyone could remember, so they weren't considered "exotic" up there. At least they taste good, evidently for man and bird alike!

Julie - It is always a joy when I come across you on the web. You sure have come along way from that non-technological fax virgin that walked into our office!


And look what came of it all. Got me a canoeing buddy and an art elf.



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