Monday, July 02, 2007
A Cowgirl's Day Off
Everyone knows that after a long week on the range a cowgirl needs a day in which to relax. Chill. Kick back and have a little fun. After a week of riding the knitting pony and finishing one project for the store, I decided to switch over to my water pony for a day. As a true cowgirl I have a whole herd of ponies for every occasion. There's the trail pony, the road pony, the highway pony, etc. My water pony is getting long in the tooth so to speak. So much so that the company that created her is out of business. She's a Walden Naturalist. Ironic, because when you're in her that's how you feel : at one with nature. She was also a boat ahead of her time in terms of green production, using 100% recycled plastic materials. Any-who, Mr. Wonderful slapped the water ponies on the Civic and off we went. One of our favorite paddling spots is Tully Lake in Athol. In reality the "lake" is a reservoir; Tully is an Army Corps of Engineers project that was created in 1949 as part of a network of "flood damage reduction" dams. This project, which completely altered an existing natural habitat, is justified (allegedly) by the projected savings of $3 million dollars of damage during heavy rains in 1987. In spite of the complete alteration of the ecosystem in the 50's by the introduction of the dam, the area is relatively pristine and up until the last 5-6 years usually felt undiscovered. It is a wonderful, peaceful place to paddle, camp, hike and fish, especially during the week or off-season if you're not into the social boating thing but more into the tree-hugger thing (that'd be me). This is not a state that can continue forever, and threats constantly loom on the horizon for development of the area surrounding the lake. The Friends of Tully Lake work tirelessly to save the area around the lake from sprawl. I hope they succeed. I know the area is desperate for economic growth, but I don't think destroying Tully is the way to get it (stepping off soap box).
If you drive up a bit from the main reservoir parking area, there's a road (Doane Hill Road) that leads to a parking area for canoe and kayak launching. There's also Doane's Falls which are a bit notorious. A dangerous stretch of waterfall, the place is a sort of ritual rite of passage for idiotic teenagers out to prove themselves above the rule of nature. Warning signs and scary stories of dead kids abound. If you put in at the Tully River launch, and head up the river you'll eventually find yourself at Long Pond. First you'll need to navigate some tricky bits where beavers have altered the flow of the river. Generally, and somewhat tragically, the beavers are controlled by the government. We've significantly reduced most beaver predators (wolves, bears, fisher cats, bobcats, cougars, etc), so their numbers can become unhealthy without a lot of effort on the beaver's part. Long Pond is very alive with avian life. Birds swoop low over duckweed and lilies competing for the best bugs. Herons are often seen there - we saw a Great Blue yesterday. I love being in my boat, especially on quiet days. In the last ten-odd years we've had some amazing experiences in our kayaks. I've always loved the Ashuelot for heron-chasing. In one trip we saw maybe 10 Blue Herons fishing...or was it the same bird over and over? We'll never know. Once, on the Connecticut, a Bald Eagle came down not more than 20' off the bow of my boat, scooped up a huge fish, and headed off to a nearby tree where her mate waited for dinner. It was surreal, and amazing, and made me cry. We've had many beaver sightings, my favorite being the young beaver who have not yet learned to duck and run when humans approach. Turtles, water birds of all kinds...and once a fox along a river bank.
Really I was looking for a sweater. Paddling in the wilds is sort of a mental cleansing. Sometimes things come to me while I am hiking or paddling. I was hiking once and saw a sweater that I can still see, though it has not managed to get itself knitted yet. It's still in there. I finished the Colrain jacket, and I love it. Now I have to come up with a Northampton garment. There was a plan, but it's not going to work, so I am back to the drawing board, which can be a good thins. Oh. I did promise pictures of the Colrain Jacket. Here, I'll throw two out - front view and back view. I actually think I may be in love with this garment. It's making it hard to come up with something else, under the heading of "tough act to follow". I've got some plans percolating. These two pics are the best I can do with the camera issues around here, and I suggest clicking on them, because it's really a pretty bit of knitting. Whatever I do with the Northampton needs to use color. It needs to be less structured. It needs to be...as thrilling as this jacket was, which I so doubt. Because I really love the jacket. I'd have to say of all the things I've done it's pretty well top o' the heap to date. Both garments - this and whatever I do with the Northampton - will appear in the next Valley Yarns catalog which I think is "fall". The yarn for this jacket is, I think I may have mentioned this before, Valley Yarns Colrain-Which-I-Love. Like I've said before in person it is edibly luminous. Luxurious but cheap, and God knows I love a deal. Someday maybe I'll get time to knit me one of these.
Wish me luck. I am off to draw for a while. I am all swatched out. Cuff to cuff with stripes? Top down something? Bottom up something? Jacket? Pullover? What to knit, what to knit.
Remember Annie and Gerry and Hannah and Max.
P.S. - for those who appreciate irony, the Water Cowgirl cannot swim. Yes, it's true. Sink, like a rock. Hence the jacket. I rarely paddle without it, especially in any water above my head.