The Marsh

Traveling down the Saint Lawrence River reminds me of an oft visited fantasy of my youth where I was a Huck Finn off to see the world by raft. Who isn’t transported to another life by tales of rafts and rivers whether it is Tom and Huck or Mole and Ratty?  Is it the longing of the soul for peace on one side and adventure on the other that keeps me ever curious about the boats on the river and the people on the shore?  Is it that longing, like the poles tug on the compass needle though ever so faint is ever so consistent, that pulls me around each bend searching for yet another quiet secret place to spend the night?  .

 I’m finding such places here of the River Saint Lawrence.  Granted my raft is a bit more “comfortable “ and maneuverable than Huck and Tom’s but Ratty’s assertions about nothing being half so much worth the doing ,  gives honor and meaning to my slow meander down the river.  The towns of Clayton and Alexandria Bay hold me spell bound in their simplicity and beauty.  They are water towns filled with water loving people.  “By Jove, isn’t that Toad Hall over there through the trees?” 

So when one too many mussel boats wakes me senseless, I cut my days travel short and head into a marsh that is just out of sight of the main channel.  Here in only 3 feet of water, the busy world of homes and roads or boats and ships need only be out of sight to be gone from memory.  I’m again in a world I’ve known since childhood fifty-five years ago.  I was born for these days and for places such as this.  

 A heron springs into the air and squawks his resentment at my presents, but he soon forgets his grudge, circles and lands again. Geese and goslings loop around the edges of the reeds, traveling as though on a mission, the older teaching the younger the wonders of the world on the water in preparation for the upcoming lessons on the wonders of the air.  I lower the anchor slowly; almost silently less I become the intruder I don’t want to be.   My bare feet make very little noise on deck but crossing the trampoline, give such a squeak with lacings tightening I resolve not to step on them again but go around only on the akas and amas.  The noise of man’s world is too close as it is for me to be adding any more than I must. 

The boat settles.  My ripples are gone.  I go below to straighten up the constant clutter of too much stuff in too little space but can’t stay there long.  I might miss something.  And I would have too had I not looked just at the right moment at the rocky ledge by the willows to see a mink slip from the water onto the rocks and scurry away.  A marsh is a fine place to spend the afternoon when a cool breeze spins the boat this way and that, changing my view without changing my position.     

I’m grateful The CAP’N LEM only makes 5 knots into the headwinds of the river instead of the 30 or 40 of the roaring cigarette boats out in the channel.  Though I treasure the quiet, I don’t begrudge them their fun.  Tomorrow they will be gone, perhaps back to a life ashore in just as frantic a hurry as their day on the water.  Their time to crave peace and quiet will come, just as mine has.  And should they ever ask me how I found it, I will tell them about the little marsh at Lat. 44° 18’ 44.6” N ~ Long. 075° 57’ 07.3” W   and how it renews my spirit for the miles ahead.marsh-and-geese

Marsh at sunset

Marsh at sunset

9 Responses to “The Marsh”

  1. Dick Wisham says:

    Looks peaceful. We used to sail on the St. Johns over around Palatka and Greencove Springs, here in Florida. It seamed similar.

  2. capt bruce says:

    dear tommy,
    eh.. gad you’re on the cusp of this maddness!
    are you on rations yet? solstice happened early yesterday and you are on your way into the teeth of the monster!

    local news…
    i spoke with tiny and josh.they were someplace in Queens N.Y. and concerned about the suspision the R.V. had rounded up in the neighborhood.

    something you and i know is that josh and tiny can charm a large amount of people in a short amount of time.

    they are well….. and the R.V. has wheels.

    the miles you are chasing now,are full of beauty,nightmares,bruised bones and smelly clothing.
    our nearby star has begun to favor the other pole with you,on the other side.
    the”LEM” will treat you the same way you treat her[or is the boat a him?].
    and now’s the time to make some miles.
    you know that.
    “a sailor never grows so old……”

    carry on Tommy,


  3. Kari Thoresen says:

    I went and bought a copy of Wind in the Willows this afternoon! I never read it as a child, but now I will. I am forever surprised but the wide variety of books I hear about by merely hanging around with sailors! I love your description of the marsh.

  4. Gary Velie says:

    Chuck put me onto your site and adventure. I have been thrilled reading of your progress. I wish for you fair winds and following seas, but as we all know, there are days when a wind in your face beat is all that is possible.
    Your descriptions are fabulous and I loved your dragonfly.


  5. unstranger says:

    Looks like a real relaxing place to be.

  6. Don says:

    I say make your own “LUCK” and keep your head up. I am looking foward to traveling this voyage with you. Let me thank you in advance. Don

  7. MikeinAppalachia says:

    Found your marsh on Google Earth-does look nice, couldn’t see the Cap’n Lem (heh), How many days to Cornwall and (only) Canada do you guess?

  8. Dan Connolly says:

    Wow—a beautiful place you have found there–it looks peaceful.

  9. Gayla Sue says:

    And I thought I was the only one who craved peace and quiet!