One of John Kerschbaum's gondoliers, Michael,
came to visit me today in Newport.
We jumped on a gondola, rowed out onto the bay, and enjoyed a windy
but beautiful afternoon, which gave way to an evening of equal splendor.
A few strokes into the row, and I could tell that Michael knew what
he was doing - although if a guy comes from Kerschbaum's operation
in Minnesota, you can be sure that he's been trained right.
In a short time, he was rowing and smiling on the back of the Wedding Gondola.
We passed Steve Elkins as he was heading out with passengers on the Phoenix.
We docked and helped Kalev get out on the water with his passengers.
He looked great, rowing off in the light of the setting sun.
Next we climbed into the pupparin and followed them up into the canals.
We rowed, we sang, we swapped stories.
In short: we "messed about with boats".
In his book The Wind in the Willows,
one of Kenneth Grahame's characters said:
Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
It may not always be constructive,
but there's nothing "half so much worth doing."
I've been on boats my whole life, and I still can't pinpoint exactly why
it's so enjoyable to float around on the surface of a body of water,
why piloting a boat (rowed or motorized) seems to allow so many of us
to forget about all the worries and troubles we left on land.
All I know is that Kenneth Grahame wrote, in a children's book,
one of the most solid truths I've ever heard.