Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rowing

Winslow Homer 006I grew up on a lake, and on the bay, and I spent hours – whole days in summer – rowing. I rowed my father's boat, I rowed my grandfather's boat, and after Christmas 1973, I rowed my own boat, built by my dad in the neighbour's garage.

Ango is like rowing. You set the stem on your destination, and steer by whatever slots over the transom: an overhanging madrona, a boathouse, a large piling. And then you row. You can cross a mile of water that way without ever looking forward, except to see that wind and tide haven't reanimated your dead reckoning. Turning stops you, and that just makes your passage longer. So you learn not to sacrifice momentum to impatience.

Ango is like that. There's nothing ahead. There's only the past, and a distant notion of the beach. If you obsess over progress, and results, and is it working?, you'll never get there. So you just fix your eye on the madrona, and you goddam pull.

Except I had a maple.

But that's what I did that summer. I watched the tree, and I rowed.


(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo of Winslow Homer's Fog Warning/Halibut Fishing courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston .)
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