My kids would want me to write about our recent canoe trip down the St. Croix. It was a perhaps perfect day, and they think it’s cool, and confusing, that I have a website about the river.
It was a Monday and my wonderful wife had to work, but the weather looked perfect and the river was calling, so I asked my six-year-old and eleven-year-old if they wanted to go.
Even though I did the driving and bought the sandwiches, in reality it was the two of them who took me canoeing. I was happy to sit in the stern and steer us where they wanted. If they saw something interesting, they wanted to get near it, and hopefully touch it.
It was a good reminder that we are tactile creatures, and always rewarded by getting a closer look at the world.
A few weeks before we went, I enjoyed a solo float where I observed and identified nearly two dozen species of plants and birds. I don’t think I touched anything.
I tried to keep my usual stream-of-consciousness trivia about the river to a minimum, biting my tongue and attempting to just answer any questions they voiced. But still, within the first mile, my dry-witted daughter said I should get a job as a tour guide. I muttered under my breath that she was free to pay me for today.
We drifted down long stretches in unusual silence, eating sandwiches and cookies, drinking cold beverages, watching the banks pass by. They noticed everything noteworthy.
Although we saw some kingfishers and sandpipers, a couple great blue herons and abundant bald eagles, some cardinal flower and Joe Pye weed, it wasn’t a day for any amateur botany or ornithology. It was a day to be a dad.
The water was the ultimate draw for the kids. We had three fairly prolonged swimming and splashing breaks. The river was as low as it has been all summer, and it was much easier to find a sandy beach than a deep channel. My six-year-old son snorkeled in the shallows while my eleven-year-old daughter ate watermelon, and together they floated down stretches, wearing their life jackets and carried by the current, to where I stood waiting.