Day 9 June 10

Today was a day for noticing all the little things that aren’t so little at all. At the very first light of day  I pulled my fleece hat over my eyes trying to squeeze in a little more sleep. A while later I heard the sound of geese flying and then landing near my little island. (Like it’s mine :)  I could hear them slide forever on their bellies and then honk amongst each other once they came to rest.  I love them welcoming the new day.

Lifting my hat up over my eyes, there was the crescent moon just above the tree line. I stayed horizontal for a while listening to the birdsong, smiling.

Started my ritual morning coffee and enjoyed just resting in the sun taking in my surroundings. Today was the first day I saw a great blue heron. She flew in and stalked on a nearby shore. Oh hello, heron.

It was warm enough to begin to peel off all my layers. I started walking around leisurely sipping coffee, noticing the clarity of the water and all the creatures held there.

This is a fresh water clam leaving its sand art. This is underwater, mind you. Not me, the clam. That’s how clear the water is!

Who ate the clam? What do clams eat? I wonder how they’re doing. I’m happy they’re here. What’s in the sediment?

Starting way back in 1898, Hugh Chisholm was responsible for opening seven mills in western Maine. Many, if not all, on this river. Back in those days the river wasn’t respected and it just started getting respected in 1972 with The Clean Water Act thanks to Edmund Muskie.  Love you, sir. 

We also used to cleverly put our city and residential sewerage directly in this river until sometime in the early 80’s when that was across the board seen as inappropriate and not OK.  Ain’t we smahhht. Watch us grow, consciousness is rising. We don’t do-do that anymore.

There also has been some legislation to reduce/eliminate color, odor and foam in the effluent/ discharge from industry using our rivers to put treated water back into. That’s done a world of good for the water quality.

People downstream from Berlin, New Hampshire just do not see this river as an option to hang out with still. The majority of people that I have spoken to know nothing about this river. Generationally, look at the history… 1898. It all went in the river, whatever wasn’t wanted. I asked people the simplest of questions and they could not answer it. The houses that I did see near the river banks did not have a path to the river or a dock or a boat. 

Sometimes I think I must be crazy being out here. Most of the day every day I am the only one on the water. Once in a while, and that’s four times in total- I’ve seen another boat on the water. 

I get it cause only days ago, I thought my skin and the paint on my canoe would come off with extended contact with this river. Skin and paint intact. 

There is a grading system to our river quality. It started out from the headwaters as Class A water.  Bethel to Rumford Center is B. And from Rumford to the ocean is C. C is the lowest standard acceptable in the Clean Water Act. There are many contributing factors to that rating. I’ll share what I’m learning as we go along here. Another day.

Meanwhile, back at my private island...

This qi gong yoga thing I’ve been dancing with is really saving me on a daily basis. I’d be all humped  up if I wasn’t practicing regularly. This morning was a perfect place for it. I mean really. Come on.

Leave only footprints. Take only pictures. 


Qi Gong tracks. Weird.

Packed up and on the river by nine for a leisurely paddle down stream. I loved the bone yard I got to pick through. Good ole rocks have seen it all.

Working on a rendezvous with my friend Lynn Deeves. She threatened to deliver salt and vinegar chips. That’s all I really craved, salt and vinegar chips. We met at the twin bridges at the Turner/Leeds town line. It was so great to see her. Nice to catch up and see a friendly face. And Salt and vinegar chips.

There was a ‘probably I should portage’ rapids just below the bridge. We scouted it out and I’m like let’s give it a try. I found a route it was tight and I thought I could do it. 

Here’s where the bow goes missing.

The canoe was half filled with water and lots of nervous hootin and hollerin came out. So did the bailer.
That was a blast. No forced swimming yet!

I noticed the clouds today.

So before the bridge I wanted to try to get some more water and charge up my very low phone. I found the perfect little road called River Road in Livermore and it was very accessible. I met a very nice man and three of his five sons.  He let me charge my phone outside at his garage. We talked about growing up on the river. His boys were awesome and were just hanging out in the sweetest of ways. He went inside for a while and then came back out and said  his wife wanted me to leave the property. He told me I should ‘move it along’.  I tried to be cool with it but it hit a tender spot in me. Made me have compassion for people who are homeless.

I noticed I was having a hard time breathing and then I started crying once I got on my way. And I felt myself separating from him and the sons, never mind his wife. I felt myself then feeling quite alone and judging people in general. I thought it best to do The Work on this strong reaction I was having. Here’s the thought I was believing was causing me such pain:

“she shouldn’t be that way.”

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? That she shouldn’t be that way?

No- It’s not true when I think about the fact that she has five young children and this random person walks on her property and is now asking for a password for her Wi-Fi. No it isn’t true she shouldn’t be that way. I don’t know what she’s been through in her life. She hasn’t even met me.

3. How do you react, what happens when you believe the thought, “she shouldn’t be that way”?

I have a hard time breathing, I feel like a victim, I feel small, I isolate, I judge her and her family, I feel anxious, lonely, I’m in her business, I’m arguing with the way of it, I feel resistant to life, sad and angry. Disappointed. Like I can’t ask for support. Like humanity sucks.  That’s how I react when I believe the thought “she shouldn’t be that way.”

4. Who would I be without that thought? In that situation?

Thinking oh, OK. Time for me to move on. Neutral. Equanimous.. Packing up my stuff thanking him and carrying on. I’d be fine if I didn’t believe that thought . I trust that this is not the place for me to be right now. Realizing that Lynn just texted me and for me to meet her at that bridge at noon I should leave now. I’d be lining up with the flow. I’d be grateful she reminded me to get back on that river where I belong right now.  Chips are waiting for me :-)

Turn the thought around.

I shouldn’t be that way.
1. I shouldn’t have taken it so personally to the point where I would cry.
2. I shouldn’t judge her family because of her fears.
3. I shouldn’t be assuming that everyone will understand me, accept me, and be of service towards me in that moment.

She should be that way.
1. I appreciate her protection of her family.
2. She hasn’t met me so she doesn’t know that I’m safe.
3. She is showing her 5 young boys that they have a fierce mama bear who has their back.

Basically I facilitated myself while paddling that next section. It brought me a lot of relief thru the ability to see more clearly, understand and then breathe again coming back to neutral. 

BTW, I just made the rendezvous in time, Lynn brought a charger. All is well :-)

So I found a great camping site for tonight. I’m pretty thrilled. I’ve already seen a loon and 2 beavers :-) it’s been a beautiful day on the lovely Androscoggin Who Knew it could be so beautiful RiverπŸ›ΆπŸ’šπŸŒ²πŸ’šπŸ›Ά

To donate towards this paddle with a cause to keep our rivers on a healthy path-



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