A quick kayak through Peterborough on the Contoocook River. There are two good-sized dams creating impassable waterfalls in the center of town. No matter how dry it has been, the trip is as long as you want to make it, with lots of dawdling along the way.


Wilson was right, I should have whipped out my camera when we started our cruise. There were three boys, probably ranging in age from 8 to 12, who wandered over from the car wash to see what we were doing. We slogged through the mud with the first Kayak, gauging our entry to the river. I clambered back up the bank loaded down with my camera in a dry bag. “Don’t want to leave the goods with those kids around?” he questioned. We retrieved the other boat and sundry bags, locked up the truck and headed back down the gooey slope to the water. By this time, the three brothers had strewn t-shirts and shoes from the prickly brush and were crossing the rocky stream. They tried to engage us in conversation, “Where does this river end up?”

“At the ocean.” replied Wilson.

“Are you going that far? How long will it take?”

“It will take until we get there” was Wilson’s gruff retort.

The boys dogged us to the first small natural dam formed of rocks and branches. We slipped over the “speed bump” and I wondered about them.  They were now trying out swears, “Shit! I just got my fuckin’ pants wet!”

“Stop cussing!” screamed the littlest.

As we paddled off over the weeds and rocks, my inner mother worried where their parents were. It is so odd to see kids out by themselves.  Then I realized in another time and place, that was me. Fifty years ago my brother and I stripped off sneakers and rolled our pant-legs to wade dangerously into this river. Our grandparents were probably taking a much-needed nap. This river used to come right up behind the house my great-grandfather built when he settled here from a career on a whaling ship. The train track in front of the house flattened our pennies into shiny, paper-thin disks. No one asked where our parents were. Why should I now worry about these boys out on the last day of summer, playing in a sluggish, dry riverbed?


17 thoughts on “Mud

  1. Oh, for a lovely river with pretty water. Kids, river, and fun. (We had railroad tracks and pennies, too. Did adults always drone “You’ll cause the train to derail” ? Never did. We loved to jump up and down as the train rumbled by making the ground shake and the engineers waved!)

  2. We were lucky to have as much freedom as we did. I remember wandering in the woods with my friends, building little fires. Kids don’t get the chance to do those things so much now.

  3. Very true, we were told to go play in the creek and don’t come home til dark! I was 7 and had to take my younger siblings with me, but it was ok because we had the dog with us. Totally normal then, but my parents would have been arrested and lost custody of us if they did that today!

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