It had been a while since Ed and I had been out on the water. July maybe? I miss the river, the fear of dunking the camera, the delight in rounding a bend and hearing a crane. And I miss the feeling of agelessness that a day of paddling brings.
I also miss buying early spring produce at the market. (I skipped the market last week.) A Madison May 1st market this year can fill your basket. At the Westside Community Farmers Market, Ed and I picked asparagus, flats of annuals, a baguette, cheese, and tulips. (I could have filled the basket even further, but Ed, seeing the hunger in my eyes, suggested a cap. I agreed.)
The month of May. I can take my granola breakfast out on the balcony now. Not too cold at all.
Is this the state with the terrible winters and unabashedly brief every other season?
At Ed's farmette, we load the pick-up (and here, you must pause and admire the crab apple, nearly blocking Ed’s sheepshed in the photo... why? well, becaue the tree is just so mighty and so loaded with blooms, and because Ed is tickled pink, or white, each year that it blooms).
We leave the bikes in Stoughton by the bridge and drive back north toward the put out point at Lake Kegonsa.
A fisherman asks where we’re heading.
Just a short paddle down to Stoughton. Feeling a little lazy today...He grins. You’ll work alright. The wind is something else.
Spring paddle trips are superb. One just cannot get enough of the fresh young leaves, of the loud birdsong, of mommies shepherding young ones...
Enthralled, I hardly notice when the wind picks up.
... until I do notice.
The river widens and the wind is blowing straight at us. If I paddle lightly, I get nowhere at all.
Ed, of course, doesn’t mind. The man has the grip of an alligator. He inches forward, as I fight an invisible force just to stay in place.
I hug the shore. It's safer there. Calmer. And I can admire again the young families that are out for an afternoon at the river’s edge...
As we struggle forward, we note that the fish – the ever (undesirable?) carp – are just at the surface, spawning perhaps, flapping their tails madly.
It's all rather remarkable -- the fish, the muskrats resting on islands of twigs and reeds, a solitary sandhill crane, unwilling to give up her perch even as she sees me paddling near her.
It takes us nearly three hours to navigate this segment of the Yahara. But in the end, I have no complaints. It is a magnificent way to initiate the outdoor season.
In Stoughton, we pick up our bikes and head back to the truck.
On the way Ed says what he always says on these paddling trips: want to pick up an ice cream bar at the gas station?
And as always, I am happy to dig into a heath bar. Or, in the alternative, a Klondike crunch.