This past Saturday was the 1st annual Venice Rowing Regatta! We made it a point to stop and watch for a bit. It was, at that point of the day, very pretty out; not yet too hot or windy. We stood on the shore of the Intercoastal Waterway for a bit and then climbed the stairs to the Venice Avenue bridge to watch from a higher vantage point.
They called it, The Battle of the Bridges. There are three bridges that join Venice Island to Venice proper (and therefore the real world). And the regatta used all of them. The rowing competition took the 67 competitors teams from the North or KMI bridge, then under the Venice Avenue Bridge and all the way down to the South, or Circus Bridge and then back again for 24 different events. It was pretty darned awesome.
I think rowing is such a pretty sport. Perfectly synchronized, smooth, quiet (other than the cheering from shore at least) and rather like a ballet. Or maybe the way soldiers march and do that rifle drill thing. And since it was on the water, I could not help but think of Esther Williams and her synchronized swimmers. The oars slice into the water leaving little circles beneath as the boats smoothly move forward over and over. If it weren't for those tiny ripples left behind, they would almost appear to be floating over the water.
We have a neighbor who rows. She is an amazing woman, a force of nature. Very petite but clearly strong and disciplined because she is up and out very early in the morning to go row row row her boat. She has suggested more than once that I consider joining her, but I always smile and say, "no thank you".
And it's not just because I am lazy, although, we all know that I am. It's goes back to the clumsy thing. One of the nicknames given to me by my parents as a kid was "Grace" coz I am not. Sort of like a tall person is called "Shorty" or a big guy, "Tiny". My best friend in high school was a dancer. Everything she did was graceful; sit, stand, dance, even fall. Yes, she even fell gracefully. If we stood together at a ballet barre, her every movement would be as beautiful as a butterfly. I could do most of the same things she did, only when I did it, (assuming I didn't fall on my butt while doing it) I looked like a water buffalo attempting ballet. Do you remember that scene from Fantasia with the hippos wearing tutu's and pirouetting around? Yeah, that's pretty much me doing ballet only not as good.
So that's part of it. But also, I actually have rowed before. In Maine. On the ocean. In a rowboat. I spent most of my summers as a kid on the coast of Maine. Apparently one of my arms is much stronger than the other because every time I took the boat out, I traveled in a zigzag pattern. Strong rowing for a few minutes with what appears to be both arms working together but apparently is really only one that took in almost in a circle, and then a lot of shorter strokes with the just the other arm to straighten back out, over and over and over. Row and correct, row and correct. As hard as I tried, I never got better at it. I actually didn't mind very much, but it probably took me twice as long as necessary to get anywhere and it's a good thing there are no lanes in the Atlantic because I'd be over the double yellow for sure!
And then, there is the fact that when rowing, you are traveling backwards. With no mirror. Isn't that a bizarre way to go anywhere? Seems dicey to me.
Now Canoeing makes more sense. First of all, canoers faced forward. To be fair I only ever canoed one time. Tim took me out on the Myakka River in a canoe a few years back, before we ever even thought about moving here. I loved how quiet it was. We didn't even disturb the birds, the fish hardly knew we were there and (gulp) alligators quietly moved past us without acknowledging our existence. (which was fine with me by the way).
Tim had to teach me how to paddle of course, I'd never done it before. But I paid attention and in a very short time, he was not having to remind me of anything or correct my form. I was rather tickled with myself. Silently, we would paddle and glide, occasionally stopping to, without any words, point something out to each other or take a photograph. It was amazing. And then I got cocky. I suggested that Tim stop paddling entirely and let me do the work for awhile. I was in the bow, Tim behind me. "Okay" says he in agreement. I narrowed my eyes, settled my ballcap and adjusted the lifevest to a more comfortable spot. I dipped my paddles back in the water and push. I paddled for all I'm worth. I could feel the strain in my shoulders, the stretch of muscles in my arms. I was positive that we gone miles at the very least. Finally I stopped, panting a little bit. I looked around and well, I'm not certain that we moved at all. Maybe we did big circles and I just didn't realize it. But that's about it.
Tim suggested gently that he paddle and I just take photos and that is exactly what we did. And for us, that worked out perfectly. Occasionally Tim mentions kayaking to me and while I would certainly give it a try, I am pretty sure I already know how that's going to go.
So you see, while I can certainly admire the rowers, I will not be one of them. I can cheer them on from the banks of the ICW. The extent of my participation in any sport is that of spectator. And I think that is an important job too.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.