BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WON’T DROWN.
from “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome
* * * * *
As I wrote the other day, the boys were eager to take their new inflatable dinghy (on sale at the hardware store last week) down the river. I did have some doubts about sending an eight-and-a-half year-old, ten-year-old, and even a 12-year-old, with only informal paddling and sailing experience but strong swimming skills, off for three hours on their own on the river. No cell phone either. But they did have life jackets, common sense, and enthusiasm, and the river couldn’t have been any calmer. Saturday night, after a long, hot (31 degrees C) day most of which was spent helping their father shingle a roof, the boys along with their sister set sail on the river about two miles south of our house, where the river valley backs on to a farmer’s pasture. The plan was for the kids to paddle the eight to 10 miles in the dinghy to the provincial park in town. With leisurely paddling along the very quiet waters and lots of animal-watching, the trip took them about three hours. We collected them just before 10:30 pm, and they were all grinning broadly. By their count, they noted 30 sightings of beavers (Davy figured only 18 beavers in total, with lots of repeats including one who kept swimming just ahead of the dinghy), six beaver lodges, five muskrats, two deer (one mule, one white-tail), two mother ducks with ducklings, one dead female mallard in the reeds during their only portage, and 20 geese.
The kids were inspired by hearing Tom regale them again and again with his story of paddling contest down the North Saskatchewan River when he was in his twenties, and by the Arrogant Worms/Captain Tractor song, “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate”. Here’s to many more summer adventures.
Some pictures from the beginning of the trip. It was getting too dark for photos at 10:30.
Loading up the dinghy,
Laura surveying the river valley,
A curious muskrat,
Around the bend and away,
Related Farm School posts: