If anyone deserves a Hornbeck canoe, our friend Ruth Brooks certainly does! An avid and super- knowledgable amateur naturalist, Ruth has been gamely joining our mutual friend Sue Pierce and me on many watery nature adventures while paddling her inflatable canoe, a very practical packable craft, but one that's rather too heavy to hike with, and also makes an easy plaything for any wind that should whip up while we're out on the water. But now, thanks to Ruth's dear and most generous husband (who gifted her with a Kevlar Hornbeck canoe for her birthday), Ruth is ready to find out what stress-free paddling is like. Her new boat weighs about the same as my cat (15 pounds), and its low profile makes it practically impervious to buffeting by the wind. There she is, in the photo above, about to set off in her brand-new canoe!
While pondering where she might take her maiden paddle with her new boat, I suggested a stretch of the Hudson River between the Spier Falls and Sherman Island dams. This stretch of the river is an almost sacred place for me, since it was here -- where the river's currents slow to an easy pace, where its waters are studded with forested islands, and its shoreline is convoluted with rocky promontories and quiet coves -- that my passion for wildflowers first was piqued, thanks to the splendid abundance of beautiful flowers and trees that thrive on these banks. Ruth agreed to my suggestion, so it was here we set off, on the Hudson's mirror-still water and under a clear blue sky, last Friday morning.