Earlier in the float I’d come upon a quartet of HS boys tubing. They were working hard to impress a couple of teenaged girls who were on the bank. One was swinging from the available rope in a nearby tree. A fifth, an outlier with tats, seemed a bit older, and was climbing the tree. He boasting loudly how his mom “Didn’t need ta tell ME when supper was ready! Nobody needed to f*ckin’ tell ME that, I’m NOT SIX, after all!” It was hard to know how to respond to his proclamation, so we just exchanged greetings as I cruised past. Somewhat selfishly—I wanted to be in front of them, because I knew from experience, a flotilla of noisy humans pretty much acts like a storm warning siren for all animals to head for cover. Sure enough, as I backstroked a bit to gain some space between us, four of them, their tubes clustered together, the bank girls chase apparently abandoned, began bellowing out a song. To my distant ears, they could have been lads in an Irish pub easing their heartbreak by sharing in a raucous jaunty old tune. There may have been a wee bit o’ alcohol involved in their impromptu rendition, and it may have been a good bit off key, but I did briefly enjoy the unselfconscious passionate outpouring. I lost sight and sound of them as I rounded a bend.
A bit further along I came upon a family that I’m pretty sure were immigrants, and pretty likely from a north eastern African nation. At least my untrained ear overheard the cadence of a language that made me guess so, and their complexions and facial features fit that region. Two little ones from the group were in a white unicorn festooned float. They braved the small rapids that I was approaching and squealed with glee as they bounced over them while adults watched intently (much as the mother duck would do later) and then collected them to the bank. I managed to handle the section with no mishaps and the kids eagerly waved with big toothy grins, happy, I suspect to see a six foot five, 59 year old kid, happily twirl several times in the river right before their eyes.
Near the end of the float, as neared my pull out spot, a scene from an unpainted Normal Rockwell painting came into view on the bridge as I approached. A young family was out for an evening Greenway stroll. Dad (I assume) was watching a three foot tall boy who was watching the water intently. Dad pulled a wagon with a chocolate brown cocker spaniel, who seemed utterly content to not have to use his legs to move. Mom (I assume) held the hand of a barely-walking blonde-haired cutie with Little Orphan Annie curls peering over the low wall on the bridge. “Annie” suddenly excitedly gestured to the water and all but jumped (smart mom was obviously prepared)—the girl was at that age where you haven’t yet learned to point one finger so you just use your whole hand, which made it seem she was casting a magical spell onto the fish. I reached the family a few seconds later and we waved. “Annie” was wide-eyed with amazement trying to grasp that I was going to pass under her very feet!
As I emerged on the other side, two young teens were standing shin deep in the river. They were beside their selves a gaggling and giggling—one had just that instant caught a fish in a bucket. Apparently they’d been chasing the poor critter endlessly in the shallows. To my surprise, their excitement was justified as it was far from a minnow! After a fun chat with them, where they made clear they were NOT going to eat it, I convinced them it was better to let it go than try to take it home without a plan (as I probably would have done at their age). They did the honorable thing and poured it free. Or tried to, but it kept attempting to head back into the dark of the bucket. Finally a vigorous dumping got it out, but then none of us could see it...I looked at the companion of the bucket holder and with a twinkle in my eye said loudly “I think it went up your pant leg!” The bucket boy jumped and slapped both legs on his trunks several times, as his partner and I shared a good hard laugh. I thanked them for “doing the right thing with the fish” and we parted.
I headed home feeling refreshed in every way, and hopeful about tomorrow.