Can You, Canoe?

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Truth in advertising, this photo looks much better here than it does in person thanks to Kim’s Photoshop enabling. However, in all fairness to me, this is closer to what it looked like when advertised on eBay. I assumed that this was a photo postcard and was shocked when it arrived to find that it is about three times as large, poorly and sloppily printed. It almost looks like an early, primitive (and ham handed) reprint process.

Judging from the clothes it is from the teens – those early swimsuits, stockings and shoes were what attracted me to this image to begin with. Instead of seeming onerous, as those outfits sometimes do when associated with sand and water, these togs seem sort of fitting for a day on the water canoeing. I like the bits of decoration on them – the bow on one, the white piping on the other. The dark haired girl has such a sweet face! The one who scooped up the kitten looks a bit accusatory, glaring at the camera. It is a pretty, tiny kit, just about to enter the gawky adolescent stage of cat. She or he looks all white but that might be an illusion of the sepia toned film. The state of the grass and the scattered leaves makes me wonder if it is perhaps early fall instead of summer as I originally assumed.

There is a gracious looking porch behind them and even though everything is out of focus beyond the canoe, it is an inviting yard – some place I wouldn’t mind spending part of the summer I think. A family camp perhaps, way upstate New York or in Maine. The canoe is a dandy too and I especially like the caned seat we can catch a glimpse of. For all my having grown up on the water I have actually never been in a canoe – only rowboats with flat bottoms. The river where I grew up was too tidal for canoes, although I did kayak in it once. My father had a kayak he would take out occasionally and he let Loren and I try it. I loved it! I have a vague memory that it freaked my other out and that is why I probably didn’t do it more. Like kayaks I imagine that canoes roll over and dump you out fairly easily.

While rowing seems somewhat self-evident, you only need to watch a bunch of inexperienced rowers in Central Park to realize that there are a few tricks to it. For one thing I can’t tell you how many people attempt to row backward, pointing the square back of the boat forward and making it quite hard for themselves. There is also the matter of pulling the oars either together or in coordinated even strokes, or you will go in circles – which leads us to turning. Lots of those park rowboats are constantly sideswiping each other – occasionally plowing right into one another because they have not considered steering. I like rowing and given the opportunity I think I would do it often. (I have tried it at the gym, but generally find it static and less enjoyable.)

Our rowboat was kept tied to a floating dock and was really there for the primary purpose of getting out to our sailboat which was moored a few hundred feet out, where the it was close to the channel and the water was usually deep enough for it. Once in a blue moon Loren and I would just take the rowboat out – I suspect (but don’t remember specifically) against my mother’s objections. One of our chores was to bail out the rowboat after it rained. This was a messy, mosquito-ridden task which was executed with 2/3 of a plastic milk jug if I remember correctly. We hated it and would always fight over doing it, although my memory is that, perhaps as a result, we usually ended up doing it together.

There was one of those days when I guess we had been fighting over it – although maybe not especially because sometimes Loren could just be unexpectedly devilish too. While I was in the boat bailing and she was still on the dock, she untied it. Off I quickly drifted – without any oars! Loren, being a very strong swimmer and realizing there was no choice, ultimately jumped in and swam back with me in tow before the tide took me too far out. Nonetheless, it lived on in family lore and I would trot it out as proof of her older sisterly abuse, as one’s younger sibling will.

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Wading In – Happy Summer

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have owned this photo for a very long time. I cannot remember if I purchased it on eBay or if I bought it at a flea market. It is in bad shape  – faded and dirty, but it always makes me happy when I look at it. It is tiny, only a few inches across and mounted on a hard gray card. Kim has photoshopped more contrast into it than survives in the actual photo.

Despite her voluminous skirts she has managed to hike up to her knees; this attractive woman is wading deeply in the water, and she appears to be having a blissful time! It is a beautiful spot – the photo has no indication of where it was taken or who it is. While I imagine Maine for some reason, it could be any number of watery hot weather vacation destinations. It is easy to see why this photo was kept all these years. In our apartment it sits on a bookshelf at eye level, where it catches my eye once in a while and I consider the pleasure of it, caught on film so long ago.

Wading is a wonderful thing – I think it has virtually all the pleasure of swimming without any of the exertion or, ideally the mess. (Assuming of course you don’t get too enthused and fall in or misjudge the trajectory of an income wave.) Since you remain dressed and are in danger of getting your clothes soaked, these is a tiny frisson of excitement as well. A sense of maybe you shouldn’t be doing this, but what the hell. And the pleasure for someone who was wearing layers of cotton dress, petticoats and corset seems extraordinary. But she isn’t thinking about that – she is in that lovely cool water, her hair pinned up on the top of her head and she is smiling over her shoulder all the way to us in the future, with come hither, summer happiness.