Monday, January 23, 2012
I'm sure many of us are familiar with a current TV advertisement depicting guinea pigs rowing a small boat to provide energy for their owner's computer. One little creature sits in the back of the craft, with megaphone in hand, calling "Row," " Row," "Row." During Jim's 110-mile paddle down through the Florida Keys, I'm sure he heard similar words in his mind, especially during the longer legs when other, faster paddlers got out of sight ahead of him. He sometimes expressed frustration at the end of a long day that he hadn't been able to keep up with the speedier members of the group. Still, he finished the trip in a good and timely manner, and was happy and well at the end. The frustration he occasionally expressed to me by cell-phone reminded me of a segment from Travels with a Donkey by R.L. Stevenson. "We got across the ford without difficulty - there was no doubt about the matter, she was docility itself - and once on the other bank, where the road begins to mount through pine-woods, I took in my right hand the unhallowed staff, and with a quaking spirit applied it to the donkey. Modestine brisked up her pace for perhaps three steps, and then relapsed into her former minuet. Another application had the same effect, and so with the third. I am worthy the name of an Englishman, and it goes against my conscience to lay my hand rudely on a female. I desisted, and looked her all over from head to foot; the poor brute's knees were trembling and her breathing was distressed; it was plain that she could go no faster on a hill. God forbid, thought I, that I should brutalize this innocent creature; let her go at her own pace, and let me patiently follow. What that pace was, there is no word mean enough to describe; it was something as much slower than a walk as a walk is slower than a run; it kept me hanging on each foot for an incredible length of time; in five minutes it exhausted the spirit and set up a fever in all the muscles of the leg. And yet I had to keep close at hand and measure my advance exactly upon hers; for if I dropped a few yards into the rear, or went on a few yards ahead, Modestine came instantly to a halt and began to browse. The thought that this was to last from here to Alais nearly broke my heart." Jim refers to all his vessels as female entities, and Ibi is no exception. He would never lay a hand on her rudely, but he surely wished several times during this trip that he could have driven her faster. Still, they finished the journey together safely, as did R.L. Stevenson, albeit with some frustration and difficulty. Can't wait to see the pictures he took and have him set down his own impressions of the trip. Have a good one, and be safe out there!