August 4, 2010: Long time no posting, but I have been rowing. I've worked rowing into my weekly routine, I go to sleep a bit early, get up early, (5:30 or so) load the boat and head for the river. I'm back by 9:30. I've been out about 30 times this season, mostly putting in at Coxsackie or Coeyman's landing.
The river is always different. Sometimes it's like glass, like in the picture above. This is looking south from Coxsackie. The island that you see is Stockport Middle Ground. Around the corner on the left is Hudson River Islands State Park. The island you see way down on the right isn't an island, it's Four Mile Point sticking out. But really, it's always different -- the tides come and go sort of like the river is breathing. You don't know till you get there if the river is high or low, coming in or going out.
So why do this? A lot has to do with the motion of the boat through the water -- you float! There is an effortless horizontal glide that is pretty satisfying. I'm convinced that this is a big part of the lure of small boating, the effortless glide through the water. With rowing, you also get the grace and symmetry of the motion of the oars. And the feathered oar, well, that's just wonderful. Years ago I was bicycling by the Charles River in Boston, and saw this guy rowing, feathering. It was beautiful to see, and I wanted to do that, make that motion.
There's the wildlife watching, eagles, Great Blue herons, I saw four deer on the Stockport island yesterday. Animals -- I've seen big snapping turtles on land and in the water, foxes, cormorants blasting out of the water ten feet away, big carp wrestling and bumping the bottom of the boat, little herring skipping along the surface on their tails, the geese flying overhead. Speaking of overhead, the sky is enormous -- you can just drift and take it in. And there's the quiet if you get there early -- quiet is a good thing.
Amateur botanizing -- you start to notice things and wonder what they are, water chestnuts, spatterdock, yellowflag lilies. The tide goes up and down four to five feet, it's an estuary so things grow here that don't grow anywhere else. There's a free guidebook from the state, you can sit there in some verdant gunkhole and look stuff up. Gunkholing -- that's what they call exploring the edges, going up the little tributaries, looking for Mole and Ratty from Wind in the Willows.
Then there's the visuals. The river in the morning is a place of indescribable beauty. You have to get up early. I probably wouldn't do this if I had to go in the glare of midday. Often, while out for a row, I come on a scene that is drop dead gorgeous. Sometimes I shoot a picture, but it will be pretty flat compared to being there just then. To get the light like that with that bit of thickness to the air, you have to get up early -- before the world has woke up all the way.
On top of everything, it's a good workout. The motion of fixed seat rowing isn't very strenuous, but you do two or three thousand reps in a couple of hours. That's got to be good for you -- and it's a lot more fun than spending time at the gym.