Paddling is a Great Way to Spend a Minor Holiday

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Yesterday I phoned my friend Jack, with whom I’ve shared a Columbus Day tradition for many years. We always go on a hike some where, and I leave it to him to figure out our route.  There was a time way, way back when I used to work on a holiday like this, one of those minor holidays when the banks and post office are closed but, I thought, real workers have to punch the clock.  We would go in, because it wasn’t a holiday, and then none of our customers would be in their stores because to them it was a holiday.  I compromised with a little morning work then we made our plan.

The day was about one last paddle, we packed two kayaks into the bed of my truck and set off for Wendell State Forest.  With us was Jack’s friend Patrick, a knowledgeable fellow who is an attorney in Pittsfield. He’s the kind of guy who knows a whole lot, the kind you can ask an obscure question of and he’s going to know more details than you. To me that makes the best company.

In Wendell State Forest we took a turn onto an unpaved road and drove until it got steep and rutty. In my 4×4, I was eager to throw it into 4H gear and climb right up. But Patrick was driving today’s version of an SUV–hardly able to go into 4H and no way able to deal with the ruts. So we turned back and soon we were paddling across a glassy Wickett’s Pond.  We hugged the perimeter, each of us in a short plastic kayak, and we saw a great blue heron taking off, loping through the sky with their peculiar neck folded back.

At the far end of the pond we came across a brass plaque mounted on a rock.  Nook Burniske, 1936-1994, it read. I vaguely recall that this fellow as a tri-athlete who was famous in Franklin county, and it appeared that he might have used this pond as a place to train for his races. But a Google search turned up nothing about him, so I”m still wondering how he died and who he was.

We had more paddling in us after we finished the big lap of Wicketts, so we headed to Barton’s Cove, a beautiful spot famous for its eagles, who live on an island across from the boat launch.  Another paddle, more political talk, and it all turned out to be a great way to spend a minor holiday.