Sunday, 15 May 2011

A River For All Seasons By Jeanne Mannesto

Pondering this river led to remembrance of enjoyable recreational activities in every season. Kayaking the St. Marys River on a sunny warm day in early autumn going downstream on three mile run in the red river kayak with you in the green one way over there on the American side of the river was a pure adrenalin rush. I caught the current by the Canadian shoreline in the shallows where the white caps proved a challenge to keep going in the right direction. Then reaching relatively calm water in the narrows slowed the paddling down considerably. I sat back and let the river take the boat passing by the loon who lives here. The cool water on my bare toes felt good while pulling the river kayak on shore to relax in the sunny spot on the dock before loading it up in the truck at the small park across from the white church.

The wait with anticipation for the perfect calm bright day of crystalline pastel blue water to motor around Sugar Island in summer always proved fruitful. We loaded the Chris Craft with subs and beverages for a picnic lunch at the park on St. Josephs Island, donned wide brimmed Tilley hats and sunscreen, and settled in for an enjoyable trip. We traveled south going through Lake St. George. After the picnic, it was fun to go down through the channels at St. Josephs Island to see the interesting homes and huge boulders where the local youth jumped into the frigid water. Then we navigated around the tip of the island heading for Aune-Osborn boat launch waving to the other boaters cruising by or those anchored for fishing. We made way for the thousand footer freighters heavy with loads and low in the water. The majestic osprey sat on their nests atop channel markers. The summer scenery of nature, water and fresh air filled us with delight. Pulling back into the dock to tie up and cover the craft always left a bit of nostalgia that another good day was drawing to a close.

In wintertime when the river runs frigid and ice shards form on the shallows which tinkle in the breeze like a glass bell concert, I donned my cross country skis leaving the cottage at sunset to watch the Canadian shield turn pink then a deeper maroon. I slid across the frozen snow and ice encrusted beach going south to the point. Sometimes the otter came out from the caisson to slide silently by looking back at me. One time the woods were lightly coated with snow. It looked like the cook from heaven’s kitchen sifted powdered sugar over the entire area. It clung upon every twig and bough this side of the river. All the evergreens on the Canadian side looked regal. The river ran a peaceful silent steel blue that day with an occasional jay cry in the distance.

In spring the recreational fun was fishing in the rapids by the International Bridge. We crossed the bridge to get to Whitefish Island, hiked to the shoreline to get into the rapids and pulled on waist high waders. We used walking sticks to stay upright on the slick rocky uneven slippery floor of the freezing river sometimes holding hands. The strong current sucked the air out of the waders which get tight to the body. Once at the concrete abutment, we sat in the warmth of the sunshine, got the gear out and hoped for a bite. Other fishermen caught and released steelhead trout. I went home with an empty basket.

Writing the St. Marys River is a good way to re-create these joyful times in all seasons.

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