Canoe Quotes (6 quotes)
[Two college boys on the Flambeau River in a canoe]… their watches had run down, and for the first time in their lives there was no clock, whistle, or radio to set watches by. For two days they had lived by “sun-time,” and were getting a thrill out of it. No servant brought them meals: they got their meat out of the river, or went without. No traffic cop whistled them off the hidden rock in the next rapids. No friendly roof kept them dry when they misguessed whether or not to pitch the tent. No guide showed them which camping spots offered a nightlong breeze, and which a nightlong misery of mosquitoes; which firewood made clean coals, and which only smoke.
[Two college boys on the Flambeau River in a canoe]…their first…taste of freedom … The elemental simplicities of wilderness travel were thrills not only because of their novelty, but because they represented complete freedom to make mistakes. The wilderness gave them their first taste of those rewards and penalties for wise and foolish acts which every woodsman faces daily, but against which civilization has built a thousand buffers. These boys were “on their own” in this particular sense. Perhaps every youth needs an occasional wilderness trip, in order to learn the meaning of this particular freedom.
I do recall that the strong sense of curiosity about the botanical world came from family canoe trips where we would just drift through boggy rivers and wetlands, without any goal except for looking at things. I learned that curiosity could be a pursuit. And the plants there were so unlike any I’d ever seen, the pitcher plants, the sundews, the brightly colored Sphagnum mosses, I couldn’t help but wonder why the world was so full of different beings and what their lives were like.
Research in neurophysiology is much more like paddling a small canoe on a mountain river. The river which is fed by many distant springs carries you along all right though often in a peculiar direction. You have to paddle quite hard to keep afloat. And sooner or later some of your ideas are upset and are carried downstream like an upturned canoe.
Travel by canoe is not a necessity, and will nevermore be the most efficient way to get from one region to another, or even from one lake to another anywhere. A canoe trip has become simply a rite of oneness with certain terrain, a diversion off the field, an art performed not because it is a necessity but because there is value in the art itself.
Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. I suppose some will wish to debate whether it is important to keep these primitive arts alive. I shall not debate it. Either you know it in your bones, or you are very, very old.