High on Water

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Yesterday after I finished the Pumpkinman Triathlon (as fun as every year and the only triathlon I got to do this summer, so doubly fun), since we were already in Maine, David and I headed to York Harbor to check out a show of ceramics by our friend Al Jaeger. We’d never been to the George Marshall Store Gallery and were delighted to find it housed in a historic building on the bank of the York River, overlooking York Harbor.

Yesterday was a brilliant day — clear, dry, cool, and blue as days can get in New England. York Harbor was exquisite, water shimmering with sunlight, sharp wind, hot sun, river banks green with tall oaks and stately white houses, a bright harbor full of fishing boats and sail boats and dingys and Boston Whalers.  We wanted to come back and kayak up river, into the expanses of marsh we’d glimpsed between houses as we drove towards the gallery and the harbor.

Today we got up and out early enough to be on the river an hour before high tide, so we could ride the current up, and then come back down river with the tide.  With another perfect day of clear light, hard sun and cool winds, we felt like we were kayaking into a gift.  As we passed the gallery and the Barrell Mill Pond Dam I wrote about when I was in York Harbor last March, we saw what looked like dozens of herons, egrets and ducks in the marsh to our right.  “Do you see all those herons?” a man in a dingy said to me. “There are at least 10 of them.”  “Is that unusual,” I asked.  “We haven’t kayaked here before.”  “Yes,” he said.  “You might see one or two, but never this many.”  We counted 11.

The river wound around corners, past marshy banks and the trim green of a golf course,  past bleached wooden walkways out to docks, and eventually under Rte. 1 and then Rte. 95, the Maine Turnpike.  I’d never kayaked under an interstate before.  It was loud and surreal to watch trucks and cars flying by on the long bridge, just above our sight line of the water.

Kayaking back downriver, we hugged the shorelines, staying out of the east wind that had come up, making us have to paddle in spite of the strong tide running in our favor.  Along one bank I found an arrangement of rocks on top of a stone wall.  Someone had made a bit of art on the riverbank, miles up river from the art that brought us here in the first place.

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