First Day Out


A six day route

And promising gray and drizzle

No matter

It was the great “out there”

Of rocks, lichens

Gull shit

And leaning balladeer pines.

Good paddle selected

Bound to blister

The right hand's web

Noses covered with lotion

And the old Chev

Left ticking in the heat.

Planned about seven weeks back

Ministry top maps

And a host of visuals

From our fore-runner.

Three beginner's hours out

Into the Bay

Look to one o'clock

And a cream coloured

Rock face

Bout fifteen feet high

Starts the river course

Can't go wrong then

'Til the forks

Right side has a red

Shingled cottage

Take that one

Supper will find you

Up-river at the falls.

Camp to the left

On softer ground

Nothin' worse than a rock

Gainst the spine

First night out.



But those “beginners' hours”

Insulted by a nor' easterly

Stretched from three

Into five and a half

Sun was lowering as we

Saw the rock face

Both of us wet

From paddle back splash

In contrary waves.

Inside the river

Probably better

We told ourselves

As winds lessened

And bugs largened.

Then some shallows

And a sloppy drag-over

Full half hour

Of mossy rocks

And tiny rivulets – giggling.

Giggling at us.

No distinct sun

But an inkling

That something helpful

Had slipped well below

And behind the tree-line.

Ravens croaked out of view

Peeper frogs warming up.

An hour's paddle

In water deep enough

And behold the forks, Stu,

The forks!

Two cottages – red shingles – Yep

No one home.

And the happy hissing

In minutes

Of the blessed cataract.



Not quite a day

For the great Champlain

But passable.

Night hawks cheered

For the paint-scratched hull over-turned

For the small tent up

The campfire ring of stones

And the minute steaks a-sizzle.

The aches all felt good.

Clouds rolled back

For a half-moon's majesty.

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