Years ago, in my final year of high school, I discovered the pleasure, the joy, of skipping classes and heading downtown for a day off. For those that don’t know, I was attending a private school, a la the kind of place Holden Caulfield was at in Catcher In the Rye, and I was certainly on the hunt for authenticity. A typical excursion might include a few hours at Duthie Books, the premier independent bookstore of Vancouver in those days. I might stroll over to one of the record stores, and then head over to Robson Street and check out the international newspapers and magazines. I would wind up in the lobby of the Hotel Vancouver and find a high back winged armchair to hunker down in to read for a while, or people watch or whatever. Those days held a delicious sense of soft rebellion, a sense of stylized rejection of the status quo.
Today I encountered a faint reflection of that sentiment as I drove up to the Cowichan River to go tubing for the day. Although I didn’t have any prior commitments, it seemed almost sinful to spend five or six hours floating down a gorgeous river on a stylized version of an inner tube. The sun was intense but the water was refreshing. Other folks had the same idea, at points it was almost congested as we ran the rapids and braved the turbulent curves of the otherwise placid watercourse. I was also thrilled to try out my new vibram five finger water shoes, which are great on the Trans Canada Trail, a leafy tunnel of alder and broadleaf maple that brings one back to the launch point in less than thirty minutes by shank’s mare.
Floating down a river on a hot summer’s day is simply one of the great things you can do. It’s refreshing and fun, relaxing and exciting, spiritual and primal. I watched the interplay of the other tubers – some adolescent and full of hormonal flirtations, some families with their own dynamics, and others just drifting by. I saw birds by the score, the silver glint of fish jumping, insects buzzing, and leaves spinning along beside me. I bumped some rocks I would have glided over a scant week ago, and realized the water level was down. I floated and splashed and drifted and spun. It was fun. The forest walls compressed the view to the silvery ribbon of river. I roasted in the heat and reveled in the refreshing tang of the river, all at the same time. Some days are timeless and have the power to connect an adolescent memory with middle-aged reality. Life is good.