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As Nick has noted in his last post, we broke in our brand new Clipper canoe this past weekend (not to mention my back, trying to hoist that bloody thing on to the car).   We had a relaxing paddle up our local Nicomekl River, soaking in the scenery.  Paddling along a river I’d passed by numerous times, it struck me how little I really knew about it and how a change in perspective sheds a new light on one’s view of things.  I walked away from that inaugural paddle with a new appreciation for a river that, from the distance, had done little to excite me.

While it would be a stretch to suggest that the river was bustling with activity, it was certainly much more active than I’d ever observed.  Apart from a good number of well-mannered beer and wine-sipping boat owners just hanging out on their assorted crafts, there were also other self-propelled boaters taking in the ambience.   One guy was madly paddling a tiny fiberglass dingy, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we were fully in his path, his wild, white hair flipping in the light breeze.  Nick and I took an emergency detour, and let this guy pass us.   When I looked at him, he had this wild-eyed look about him, reminding me of the Billy Zane character, Hughie, in Dead Calm.   I averted my gaze immediately, not wanting to make eye-contact lest he decide to course correct and place his compass bearing on our quivering Clipper.   “Don’t stare, Nick,” I hissed.  “Just keep paddling”.   Somewhere to our left came a sad bark of a dog.  Upon closer scrutiny, I realized that this dog was on a moored sailboat in a serious state of disrepair; its decks were a-clutter with water bottles, propane tanks, variously cluttered tarps, dead bodies…  OK, I didn’t actually see any dead bodies, but I’m pretty darn sure that said sailboat belonged to Hughie Senior who was by now paddling along the far shoreline, staring dementedly into the murky water.

Like I said, who would’ve known this interesting microcosm even existed unless one perched oneself right in it?   How cool is that?

Not unlike the Year of Austere from that perspective I suppose.  There is no way I would’ve even imagined what this year would’ve been like without actually doing it.   Certainly, the lessons would have fully escaped us.  Just like Hughie Sr. who popped out of nowhere to present himself simply because we were there, we have had numerous moments as a family that have been learning-opportunities simply because of the Year of Austere.   Of course, some of these have been more eye opening than others.  Some of them benign, like the boater-lushes up along the Nicomekl.   Some of them scary, like Hughie Senior and his mystery death-boat (yup, pretty sure there were dead bodies on that thing).

Anyway, Nick and I had a wonderful time.   Time with my boy.   What more could I ask for?

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Glenn

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