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Who Knew We Could Canoe?

May 12, 2014

Monday, May 12

Tonight two barred owls screamed and hooted from the trees over our dining room, a wooden platform suspended two feet over the black water of Deadwater Creek. If you have a lot of imagination, barred owls are supposed to hoot “who cooks for you?”, but that answer is pretty obvious — Mera and James. Instead, today’s question was “who knew we could canoe?”

When we began today only one student had ever been in a canoe before. By the end of the day we had canoed 4.5 miles without mishap. (Although it somehow escaped mention that we would be canoeing that distance until we had already completed the first mile.) Our journey was not without hazard. Like maritime adventurers of years past we had to contend with piracy in the form of the not-so-dread kayak pirate Shaliek who attempted to raid our slower cargo canoes in between doing the limbo under dead branches. We also had to contend with dangerous wildlife. A prothonotary warbler attacked Mariam (a small yellow bird flew past her face). We had a welcoming celebration from the fish who jumped around our canoes the entire trip in.

Once we reached our destination (two wooden platforms nestled in a maze of trees and cypress knees), we had to deal with pressing business: the portable toilet. “The toilet is…. creative,” Mariam comments. “It’s a bucket and a butterfly net,” the not-so-dread pirate Shaliek says. Brittany suggested that the toilet contained cat litter. The Portable Environmental Toilet (PETT, don’t ask about the second “T”) is a tripod toilet seat with a catching bag. Further description is not required.

Once the toilet was set up we began work on the tents. Megan showed us how to set up the first tent in a matter of minutes. The second tent was an exact replica of the first tent and should have taken the same amount of time. Instead, it took an extra 15 minutes and almost broke our happy family apart. (Shaliek is still wrong.). After we spent 15 minutes on the second tent for the girls, the boys’ tent took exactly zero minutes because it did not exist. Oops. Should have been more careful packing those canoes. (At least we have all our snacks.) The tarp tent lean-to thing is a lovely addition to our wooden platform in the middle of the endless swamp.

We shouldn’t leave dinner out. It was good, and food matters after 4.5 miles of canoeing. We discussed the things we had accomplished today that we had not thought possible at the beginning. We were out of our comfort zone but nobody minded. Instead, we had good conversation among good friends.

“The choices you make today will shape our world tomorrow. Which means that tomorrow will be full of caterpillars.” – Shaliek

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