JEFF STROUT

Birthday wonders and passing time

Robert Causey gets his red Old Town Scout canoe under way at Pushaw Lake’s Gould Landing on his birthday outing last Wednesday.
Robert Causey gets his red Old Town Scout canoe under way at Pushaw Lake’s Gould Landing on his birthday outing last Wednesday.
Posted Oct. 14, 2011, at 3:17 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 14, 2011, at 4:48 p.m.
Changing colors decorate the shoreline of Pushaw Lake near Gould Landing.
Changing colors decorate the shoreline of Pushaw Lake near Gould Landing.
Cunningham Point at Pushaw Lake’s Gould Landing takes on its fall colors.
Cunningham Point at Pushaw Lake’s Gould Landing takes on its fall colors.

It felt good Wednesday afternoon to get back on the water after a hiatus of several weeks during which major life changes were on the daily agenda.

On the water I can ditch life’s glitches and feel at one with nature. My fiberglass cocoon transports me away from shore and the day’s aggravations, the steady rhythm of paddle strokes replacing the disjointed interruptions of the office, and the lapping of waves against the hull is music to my ears, soothing the cacophony of the day.

I jumped at the chance to get back on the water when my paddling friend Robert Causey called earlier in the week. I remembered that Wednesday was his birthday and he was looking to launch his canoe for some water time. We’ve celebrated several of his past birthdays around the theme of paddling, so an aquatic outing was more than in order.

We decided to meet at Pushaw Lake’s Gould Landing around 3:30 p.m. or so. I put work behind me, headed home and loaded a kayak onto the van. The weather was holding — clouds thickening with rain later in the night, temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s with light winds. Just right for a paddle.

On my way to the lake, Robert called. There was a little glitch. He’d forgotten to do a few chores at the university barns. He’d be a little late — I’ve heard this before.

Fine. I’d just proceed to the lake and get in a little commune time with nature. No rush, no fuss.

My dry suit was the costume for the day. After outfitting my boat with safety gear, a water bottle and a camera (gotta save the moments) and donning my personal flotation device, I launched. It was nice to be back on the water. It seemed only moments had passed and I’d rounded Cunningham Point. Not wanting to be too far out of sight when Robert arrived, I turned and crossed the cove to check out foliage on the western shore.

A couple of loons played tag with me and a small flock of geese honked their way overhead. Worries of the day melted away. I almost forgot about Robert, until his little blue Honda and big red Old Town canoe came peeling down the launch ramp in the distance.

We opted for a leisurely visit on Moose Island and on the way contemplated what PVC pipe joints would be appropriate for the ribcage on Robert’s long-term project of building a horse skeleton out of PVC plumbing. Robert’s a veterinarian and professor at UM and it’ll be a teaching tool — or one heck of a fountain — at some point. He says that while the physical structure is looking 25-30 percent complete, it’s actually about 60 percent done conceptually.

If anyone has a good source of 1-inch Y-joints, by the way, let us know. It seems the 1½-inch stuff is too large.

Impending darkness and a scheduled conference call provided the impetus for us to get back to shore, but celebratory drinks would be consumed later at Woodman’s Bar and Grill, and wouldn’t you know it, a follow-up toast was had at The Roost, where karaoke was on tap. Robert just had to sing a Frank Sinatra tune.

I felt a little out of place in the age department. I’m pretty sure I was the oldest fossil in the basement, and when I sheepishly bowed out around midnight, I was more sure that I was. The alarm at 6:30 o’clock Thursday morning convinced me.

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