Great Quotes and Boats


“Most mornings Andy rows over by himself in a dory from Port Clyde, half a mile away. On the way to the house, swinging a tackle box full of paints and brushes, he ducks into the hen house and emerges with half a dozen eggs, cradling them in one hand like juggling balls. He comes in the side door and chats with Al and me for a little while before heading upstairs” (51).

Christina’s World

“He rows home at dusk. Comes back the next day and troops upstairs, his heavy thudding footsteps the only sound in the quiet house. I hear him pacing around up there, opening doors, shutting doors walking into different rooms” (288).

– Christina Baker Kline, A Piece of the World: A Novel (2017).

Andrew Wyeth


Great Quotes and Boats

“And so in time the rowboat and I became one and the same-like the archer and his bow or the artist and his paint. What I learned wasn’t mastery over the elements; it was mastery over myself, which is what conquest is ultimately all about.”

-Richard Bode, First You Have to Row a Little Boat: Reflections on Life and Living (1995).

Happy New Year 2016!

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

– Mark Twain, (20 November 1835 – 21 April 2010) aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens, author, lecturer, American humorist, Riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River and sometime rower.

From Roughing It, a semi autobiography with vivid accounts about Twain’s Wild West travels from 1861 through 1867 published in 1872:

“At last the Lake burst upon us — a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.

We found the small skiff belonging to the Brigade boys, and without loss of time set out across a deep bend of the lake toward the landmarks that signified the locality of the camp. I got Johnny to row — not because I mind exertion myself, but because it makes me sick to ride backwards when I am at work. But I steered. A three-mile pull brought us to the camp just as the night fell, and we stepped ashore very tired and wolfishly hungry.In a “cache” among the rocks we found the provisions and the cooking utensils, and then, all fatigued as I was, I sat down on a boulder and superintended while Johnny gathered wood and cooked supper. Many a man who had gone through what I had, would have wanted to rest.

It was a delicious supper — hot bread, fried bacon, and black coffee. It was a delicious solitude we were in, too. Three miles away was a saw-mill and some workmen, but there were not fifteen other human beings throughout the wide circumference of the lake.

As the darkness closed down and the stars came out and spangled the great mirror with jewels, we smoked meditatively in the solemn hush and forgot our troubles and our pains. In due time we spread our blankets in the warm sand between two large boulders and soon feel asleep, careless of the procession of ants that passed in through rents in our clothing and explored our persons.

Nothing could disturb the sleep that fettered us, for it had been fairly earned, and if our consciences had any sins on them they had to adjourn court for that night, any way. The wind rose just as we were losing consciousness, and we were lulled to sleep by the beating of the surf upon the shore.”


Dickens, A Christmas Carol and Rowing

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your door and Charles Dickens’ tome of A Christmas Carol are images long associated with Christmas. Did you know that the singer Mel Torme imagined those warm chestnuts and the brisk, cold snow while stuck in LA traffic during a heat wave before most cars had air conditioning? Torme created holiday lyrics as a way to cool down in a hot situation. Victorian author Charles Dickens created masterful tomes filled with colorful characterization and vivid description eventful  in Great Expectations and Hard Times situation. Where would Christmas be without the lessons learned from humbug Scrooge’s Christmas Eve dream and the hopeful spirit of Tiny Tim?

Bet you didn’t know that Dickens began to write when he was very young observing Victorian life in merry old London. Dickens drew on his early perceptions to create enduring classics like A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens’ early essays and tales were first published one by one and later republished as a collection in Sketches by Boz, Illustrative of Everyday Life and Everyday People with few changes.

Here’s what Charles Dickens thought of rowing on the River Thames:

“A rowing-match on the Thames, is a very lively and interesting scene. The water is studded with boats of all sorts, kinds, and descriptions; places in the coal-barges at the different wharfs are let to crowds of spectators, beer and tobacco flow freely about; men, women, and children wait for the start in breathless expectation; cutters of six and eight oars glide gently up and down, waiting to accompany their protégés during the race; bands of music add to the animation, if not to the harmony of the scene; groups of watermen are assembled at the different stairs, discussing the merits of the respective candidates; and the prize wherry, which is rowed slowly about by a pair of sculls, is an object of general interest.

Two o’clock strikes, and everybody looks anxiously in the direction of the bridge through which the candidates for the prize will come – half-past two, and the general attention which has been preserved so long begins to flag, when suddenly a gun is heard, and a noise of distant hurra’ing along each bank of the river – every head is bent forward – the noise draws nearer and nearer – the boats which have been waiting at the bridge start briskly up the river, and a well-manned galley shoots through the arch, the sitters cheering on the boats behind them, which are not yet visible.

‘Here they are,’ is the general cry – and through darts the first boat, the men in her, stripped to the skin, and exerting every muscle to preserve the advantage they have gained – four other boats follow close astern; there are not two boats’ length between them – the shouting is tremendous, and the interest intense. ‘Go on, Pink’ – ‘Give it her, Red’ – ‘Sulliwin for ever’ – ‘Bravo! George’ – ‘Now, Tom, now – now – now – why don’t your partner stretch out?’ – ‘Two pots to a pint on Yellow,’ &c., &c. Every little public-house fires its gun, and hoists its flag; and the men who win the heat, come in, amidst a splashing and shouting, and banging and confusion, which no one can imagine who has not witnessed it, and of which any description would convey a very faint idea.”

Two pots to a pint indeed. Keep Christmas well and have a very, merry holiday!