Sunday, June 26, 2016
A Great Day At Sebago Despite My Best Efforts At Sabotage.
(swiping my own Facebook post for the evening!)
What a satisfying day. I started out completely failing to get myself out for either the rowing workshop (Floating the Apple has given Sebago a Whitehall rowing gig so now we need to learn how to use it) or the paddle Tony P. had called for. Toyed with the idea of just giving myself the day off from "doing" (haven't had just a nice do-nothing day in a long time) but it was looking so nice that I decided to go tend to the garden and take the surfski for a spin.
Got to the club to find the gig still on land with the cover on and a clubmate and a lady I didn't know standing next to it chatting. I figured this must be Adina from Floating the Apple and introduced myself, asking what had happened to the rowing workshop (I was really afraid there just hadn't been interest, which would've been a bummer). Turned out that it was just that there was a huge overlap between club members who are interested in rowing a Whitehall and club members who are sailing instructors and today happened to be the first day of the big annual 2-day sailing class that the Sailing Committee runs, so the instructors were all out instructing. However, with 2 of us expressing interest, she decided to go ahead and give Marty and me a dry-land intro to the gig, the gear, and rowers' responsibilties, plus some great history about Floating the Apple.
I was acquainted with Mike Davis, but I'd never heard the whole story about how he came to start up Floating the Apple. It also turned out that Adina and Mike had been involved with working for water access, especially along the stretch of waterfront that we now know as the Hudson River Park, since before the Hudson River Park existed, even on paper - Adina is an architect and worked on a project to update Grand Central Station for the 20th century. This must have been right after the Westway highway project was defeated, so suddenly there was a need for a new plan for the crumbling stretch of waterfront from the Battery up to midtown.
Through the Grand Central project, Adina was invited to go for a boat ride where the city planners were going to unveil the next great idea for the area. Next great idea turned out to be "Hey, let's build a whole bunch of buildings on the waterfront!". Adina was horrified, she called Mike Davis and they started working towards something better. I hadn't started paddling yet but I do recall walking by the McGraw Hill Building (still green & I presume still grooking, that description in one of Allen Ginsburg's poems has stuck in my head to the point that I can't see the building without thinking of that line) and being intrigued at seeing boats being built in a vacant space on the ground floor. That was Floating the Apple.
I got involved with the Hudson River Park after starting paddling in Chelsea a few years later - at that point the Trust didn't exist, there was instead the Hudson River Park Conservancy, there was a lot of planning going on and I and a number of my paddling friends started attending some of the planning meetings, along with Roger Meyer, founder of New York Outrigger, other early members of NYO (many of whom are now paddling in Hoboken as Ke Aloha Outrigger - must go join them for a paddle one of these days!), and of course John Krevey, John Doswell, and other Pier 63 denizens who became fast friends as we followed their leads in speaking up for a park where the river was more than just a sparkling scenic element, but something you could get to, go out on, use and enjoy.
I mostly stepped down from what I called "waterfront politics", which to me was always mostly about access, when I moved my boats out to Sebago, but there was a big chunk of my life when I was attending any meetings that various waterfront community leaders suggested recreational boaters might want to attend, writing letters, sending emails, whatever I could do as one person. Fascinating getting to hear some of chapters from before my time from someone who'd been involved from so much earlier on!
And yes, I learned a lot about Whitehall gigs too! :D
After we finally wrapped up at around 2:00 (the session went long because I kept asking for more stories!), I decided that I would eat the sandwich I'd brought for lunch and then go out for the surfski spin I'd originally planned for the day. About this time, Tony's paddle had got back; I apologized for being too late for the paddle and promptly got invited to join them for wine and pie. I went light on the wine 'cause I still wanted to paddle, and I haven't been surfskiing much lately, but I did have a little, and one of the gang had found some peaches that were very good for this early in the season, and then there was pie, and then I did get out for a 4-mile spin on my surfski, including "one more mile for Glicker", thinking of Joe Glickman, a friend and Sebago clubmate who we lost a little more than a year ago, and who was one of my inspirations for keeping positive and active through my own round with cancer - mine was so much less awful and if he was able to keep up such good spirits all the way through to the end, as he did, I didn't see how I could get mopey about mine.
Extra mile was good, I'd started out feeling very shaky and with each mile I got a little steadier - coming back up the basin on the last leg I finally let a motorboat wake hit me from the side and didn't put my feet down in the water for stability (yes, I was that shaky at the start, it had been a long time!). And after aaaaaalll that I still got back in time to water and weed the garden and pick some chard - first pickings of the season, which I'm looking forward to sharing with a lovely friend from Ithaca soon! :D
Great day on and by the water. So glad I rousted myself out of the house in the morning - of course spending the day curled up on the Evil Futon of Nap with a book would've been lovely too, but what a fine day at the club it turned out to be.
Yes yes yes.