On the Missisquoi

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On the Missisquoi

We live very close to the Missisquoi River in southern Quebec. If you drift with the current in your canoe from where our house is, eventually you’ll cross into the United States (they have cameras there to catch people who don’t stop and report themselves to Custom officials). There the river widens below high bluffs and into serious rapids and waterfalls, and eventually flows into Lake Champlain.

In our area, there are a couple of canoe/kayak companies; one is just down the road: Canoe & Co. (http://www.canoecosutton.com/en/) and the other is at Au Diable Vert (http://www.audiablevert.com/en/), a couple of minutes further away in the other direction.

Starting in May, people begin renting kayaks; as the weeks passed this spring, I could see more and more cars parked at Au Diable Vert’s starting-off point and I was beginning to feel more and more envious.

I needed to get on the river!

I have written about the Missisquoi River before: (https://rlsilverman30.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/kayaking-down-the-mississquoi-a-balm-for-a-tired-heart/) in July 2013, at a scary time in my life just after finding out I had a damaged heart valve and would probably need a heart operation.

Last year, Naomi and I went again; the water was very low the day we went out in August and our paddles were constantly hitting the bottom of the river. A friend accompanying us tipped her kayak at one point and couldn’t get past a point where the river’s water turns into rapids. I had to help her out, pull her kayak to a quieter spot and get her going again.

But in late June the water is still high enough and today Naomi, while still recovering from the dizziness and headaches caused by a case of vertigo, was nice enough to agree to rent a kayak this afternoon for a couple of hours; we would go together in a kayak for two passengers so there were be less strain on her.

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So finally, after weeks of wistfully looking at the river we cross on a daily basis, we were on the Missisquoi again! Rain was forecast the following day so we experienced the quiet, low-front conditions that often occur before rainy weather. The air was still, not a leaf stirred, and we had the river to ourselves.

One problem that occurred the moment we started was a different paddling cadence. Naomi likes to paddle fast, I like to paddle slowly. Result: I was always hitting her paddle! It took a while to work this glitch out and calling out “Left! Right! Left! Right!” seemed to eventually do the trick, but at one point I just insisted that I do all the paddling and Naomi seemed content with that.

Then there was the persistent horsefly that wouldn’t stop landing on Naomi’s cap. I shooed it away, I tapped it with my paddle. No luck. Was it planning on drilling through her cap in order to lay her eggs in her scalp? I couldn’t get my eyes off it…

From our vantage point in the kayak, there really isn’t much to see. Trees lined both banks, creating, not a vista per se, but a sense of protection and insular-ness.

We reached our first set of rapids and decided not to go further, parking the kayak on a beach. I resolved to go in and have a swim, which took some time because the water was still on the cold side, but I finally did dunk in and swam a bit.

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Naomi and I have discussed if and when we’ll buy our own kayaks. The good folk at Canoe and Co. have agreed to let us store ours at their place should we decided to purchase them. I say “them” because we agree that it would be more fun for each of us to have our own kayak. That way I get to see more than Naomi’s back all the time. On the other hand, being two in a double kayak does lead to better conversations.

Afterwards, we jumped in a bath, sweeter for the fact that it warmed limbs chilled by the cold water of the river, shoulders tired, appreciative of being so close to this special place in the bosom of Nature.

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