Because Who Doesn’t Need Another Boat

 

On the way to our local farmer’s market, we told ourselves, again, not to buy more vegetables than we can use. It worked this time.

After breakfast in town, we stopped to look at the river, part of the Saturday routine. We passed our friend Stuart out spreading mulch. Out the sidewalk on sawhorses he had a canoe with a for sale sign, and we stopped to chat. Said he’d only used it three times, and needs room for more toys. Comes with two nice wooden paddles and seats.

We realized we had not told ourselves not to buy more boats than we could use.

After a few minutes at the landing watching the river flow by, as the summer heat and the cicada buzz swelled, we agreed we should reward our temperance over vegetables with a new boat. Within the hour we had it on top of the car and were headed for the river.

After weeks of flooding the river is still a little murky, but nearly back to normal levels. We paddled upstream to what remains of an old island at the confluence of Totier Creek. After a swim to cool off, we left the main stem of the James, now flooded with tubers and fishermen, and paddled up into the quiet creek.

Immediately the raucous river party fell away, and was replaced by sun-dappled silence, Great Blue Herons, crows, song birds and gar fish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around a few bends we came to the old colonial era aqueduct. A stone arch over the river that dates back almost to the Revolutionary War. The Kanawha Canal ran along the James, and every stream had to be crossed with one of these bridges for canal boats. We floated underneath on the creek – the canal boats floated across overhead, where now the railroad runs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very cool.

Returning to the James, another swim, and a float back home.

Who doesn’t need another boat?

 

 

New York in 1911

Some extraordinarily well-preserved film footage shot of New York city in 1911.

 

 

The most striking thing is that the broad avenues and boulevards are filled with pedestrians. This is not one of those rare festival days when they shut down the streets for people to use – this is normal, every day. The streets were made for walking. Horse carts, cars, and trolleys all share the road. All move at a walking pace, which is why it works.

Also, the windows of the skyscrapers are open. There is no air conditioning in 1911. People live in apartments on the upper floors, with the windows thrown open to the breeze and the sky.

But umbrellas have not changed in over 100 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brush Creek Yachts ~ Concentric Circles and Paradoxes

Doug, his son Ben, and Marvin Spencer, with the new Marsh Cat “Magpie”

 

(This is a post started last August; am just getting back to it.)

It will take nearly four hours of driving to get there, to get where the boat is, a boat built by hand in the loft of an old barn. We head out at sunrise while there’s still dew on the grass.

We don’t go east toward the coast, though, where most boats and builders of them live. Instead, we turn and go the other direction – to the southwest into the mountains. Instead of the land of crabs and oysters and skipjacks, we’re going deep into coal and bluegrass and moonshine country.

After 200 miles of driving we’ll still be in Virginia, though just barely. From south of Fries it’s just 10 miles as the crow flies to the Carolina line, and 20 to Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. This is where Marvin Spencer, proprietor and master craftsman of Brush Creek Yachts, lives and builds boats.

 

Buffalo Mountain

 

 

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Winter Harbor ~ Blind Woman in a Snow Storm

 

7 Down: Where Leonardo da Vinci is buried.

Oh yes, I know that one. Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the chapel at Amboise. A chateau in the Loire.

How did you know that, without even reading a New Yorker?

I always remember, because it reminds me of the night I met that charming blind woman in the middle of a snow storm.

Was that when you were in France?

No, not in France. In Fluvanna County. I was house sitting for a friend at Christmas. A big snow storm came through. I let the dog out before bed, and it did not return. I got into her four wheel drive car to go looking for him. Down the road, I suddenly came upon a woman wading through the snow. She was wearing Long Johns and a sort of antique broach.

Excuse me, ma’am, but can I give you a ride?

Oh please, I hope you can help. (She looked a little sideways as she talked. I thought from the glare of the headlights, but realized she was blind.) My husband has rearranged the whole library, and we can’t find the one book to settle this argument. Do you happen to know where Leonardo da Vinci is buried?

Strangely enough, I knew the answer. When I studied painting in Paris, I was invited to visit the Loire Valley where a chapel was built around his tomb. A beautiful chapel.

Why yes, in fact I do. He’s buried at the Chateau d’Amboise, in the Loire Valley.

Oh thank god. Will you please take me back down the road and tell my husband? He will not sleep until we know. Oh, and we have your dog. He’s been quite well-behaved. Hasn’t peed or nothin.

 

Overheard after dinner conversation.

 

Winter Harbor ~ The Island, East

view from the porch

 

The house faces east. Sunrise comes up over the water, shines into half the bedroom windows; sunset shines in the others. In between, a daylong performance of color and light.

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Winter Harbor ~ The Island, South

out the inlet

 

After coffee, I head out to the beach and turn right.

There is only one house on the island. There is no one else here.

Walking south. Here, too, trees hang on with impressive resilience. Roots fully exposed, awash at high tide. Nevertheless, they persist.

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Winter Harbor ~ The Island, South”