Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Longer posts and pictures to follow.

Some thoughts and highlights from England and Wales.

I read Losing Julia on the way back. A depressing, but from my perspective realistic, view of old age. Sitting around in a nursing home. All the smells and sounds. The longing for the touch of someone. The desire to be with someone. The younger person trapped in an aging, failing body. Life is finally tragic. That's why we search for meaning, for something larger than ourselves.

I am mindful that a year ago I was mostly in bed, sick and tired from chemo. The times I felt good were windows of hope. Now I feel good most of the time. I'm stronger, but not as strong as I'd like to be. But, I have no great words of wisdom from cancer; I'm not sure it has changed my life in the meaningful way that I see that it changes others' lives.

Our adventure. On Sunday we decided to see if we could canoe on the Wye river. The Wye is sometimes the border between England and Wales and further down from where we were, flows by Tintern Abbey. So, we arrive at the canoe livery. Lots of folks are waiting around. We ask if we can rent a canoe. A young man intervenes and arranges to have another canoe put on top of the van for us. The woman owner is not terribly happy, but goes along with the young man (her son?). We take off on the bus. We avoid the safety talk and jump on the river. We float and paddle way ahead of the rest of the group. There is a rowing regatta in town and the normal take out is unavailable. So we are going to take out further upstream. We manage to survive the level 2 rapids (yeah, I know). I got splattered. My son got a little wetter. As we neared the town, we were rudely pushed over to the far right. And so we watched for the take out. We arrived at the town and the Wye bridge. We decided we had missed the take out. Fortunately, there was a stairway leading down to the water from the roadway above. I grabbed hold of the stairs. My son fished out my cell phone. We got a signal and called the canoe livery. No answer. Tried again. No answer. I looked and saw a second number which looked as if it were the fax number. Called that. Someone answered. We said we thought we had missed the take out. The woman suggested we try to row up stream or across the river. We decided to row upstream where we could see the take out. And so up under the bridge. Bernouli's principle in full effect. The water, its channel narrowed by the bridge's pier, sped up in its flow. We made it! We pulled the canoe onto the steps of the take out. My son found a young man to help, who turned out to work for the livery. And I got really, really sunburned. I hadn't taken sunscreen to England, because who gets sunburned in England? I looked like an American Indian preparing for war. I had bright red streaks on my cheekbones. Really red. And my forehead was red. It is beginning to fade. I hope to have normal skin for Pentecost. Otherwise, I suppose I'll let the congregation think I've made myself up for Pentecost.