13 September 2010

Irish melody

As I sit writing in our tent at the end of this lovely, rainy day, I can hear the crackle of the campfire as it dies down and the sweet strains of Irish-sounding melodies.* Colin is sitting at the water's edge below our camp playing his fiddle, a soothing end to another day on the Allagash River.

We paddled a rather short distance today from Allagash Falls to a campsite at East Twin Brook, located at a bend in the river -- perhaps eight miles. Three factors made today's course particularly memorable:

  • More rain: Yes, we've had another overcast day. Even Alana and Colin have been surprised by the constant rain. Generally, September in Maine is clear, though cool at night.

  • The waterway itself: After Allagash Falls the river narrows a bit, winding luxuriously, with silver maples lining long sections of the bank. I can only imagine what it will look like in two weeks, since -- clearly -- fall is here. The river's course is not all tranquility, though. There are rips and slight rapids to negiotiate. Today's section of the Allagash is referred to as "bony." Paddlers have to pick their way through the challenging sections.

  • The afternoon in camp: Today's paddle ended in a steady rain. By the time we unloaded the boats, Alana and Colin had the tarps over the table and fireplace erected, had built a fire and put lunch out, though, the rain had stopped and stayed stopped until now -- just moments ago (about 20 minutes after Colin finished playing the day to an end). For nearly three hours the camp was still, with quiet conversation, napping, catching up journals, sitting by the fire the primary activity. It was a lovely last encamped afternoon.

  • It's time to put the writing materials away and turn off the flashlight. I can still hear soft fiddle music even though the instrument's safely back in its dry case and Colin has gone to bed. Enough for the day. That distant music and the strengthening rain will bring on satisfying sleep, I hope.

    Two of the three pieces Colin played have names I can remember. One is "Going Up the Allagash," written by Colin himself and the other "Ashokan Farewell" by Jay Ungar. It was written in 1982 and used as the theme for the PBS miniseries "The Civil War." Very delicate and sweet. The link will provide both information on its origins and a very nice rendition to listen to.

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