By the standards of what they show on TV on the likes of Discovery and NGC, this ranks somewhere in the danger region of a walk in the park. 17 miles of the Saco river in Maine were canoed in an highly inefficient S-shaped path by my novice oar. We could hear the traffic buzz by on occasions that the highway got close to the water's edge. True it was a forest, but it was a largely bear free zone of Maine and hopes of seeing a moose remained exactly that: hopes. Given the hard time that the fidayeen squads of mosquitoes gave us, we didn't have any time to take stock of any more wildlife anyways.
However there is something to be appreciated about leaving your wallet behind because all your plastic is useless and junking your cell-phone inside the dashboard because there is no signal on the river. The reality was that we were within 15 minutes distance of ready help in case something went awry yet it was very much an adventure for my delicate, urbanized soft bones. The bobbing canoe demanded attention to balance not normally necessitated on my ergonomic office chair. The cool dark green waters that my tipsy transport glided through were a welcome change from the gray carpeting that runs in between the gray cubicle walls where I normally wander and conduct my daily business. Without the benefit of a wrist watch, every minute of the day in the canoe is accounted for: minutes spent in the sometimes searing sometimes soothing sun, minutes relished in the rare shadows of riverside foliage, minutes invested in fighting off mosquitoes once they discovered new victims stumbling into their shadowy domains and minutes expended in never-ending hope that we had finally reached the end point of our self inflicted physical exertions. It's a way of life, this tendency to tangle with nature which has been with us since time eternal, since the day we as a species started exploring the world beyond the domains of familiarity and comfort. Yet we have become so isolated in our cocoons that even a little slit filtering light into our protected little world is blinding and an invitation to take that first shaky step out into the big bright world waiting to be discovered. I hope I have taken mine.