Wicked was not a word that occupied much space in my vocabulary when I was growing up. Wicked was the wicked witch of the west from the Wizard of Oz, and occasionally another story book character. It was not a word I used in every day conversation and I don't remember anyone I spent time with using it either.
I grew up in New York state, although I don't really sound like it since my speech patterns were influenced by my father's western Massachusetts upbringing, and my mother's modified mid-western upbringing, and the elocution classes my mother was subjected to in college. By the summer of 1976 we were living in northeastern Ohio, a brief sojurn, where my speech was further influenced by not only the sounds of Ohio but also by the slight British accent a school mate had acquired during his father's sabbatical in England the previous year and cultivated for reasons unknown to me.
I'm sure I used slang, I do now and have no reason to believe that I was immune from it as a child. But I can't actually tell you what slang I might have used to identify those things which were, to use a more recent vernacular, awesome.
The summer of 1976 found me working in the kitchen of a church camp in New Hampshire. I ended up there largely because I'm not good at small talk, but given a job to do at a social event and I'm fine. Late in the spring of 1976 I was at a church picnic, and someone commented on how helpful I was. The college age daughter of our pastor was at the periphery of the conversation and asked if I was interested in working with her that summer. She was the head cook at the camp. A couple of weeks later I was off to New Hampshire. The trip east was eventful enough since it was the first time I had traveled alone.
I took the train east from Ohio to Springfield, Massachusetts where my grandfather picked me up, took me to lunch at the Ground Round in West Springfield, and deposited me at the bus station. At the end of the bus ride north I was picked up by the head cook (the minister's daughter) and the waterfront director, who was nominated for the job because he had a car.
A number of my co-workers were from the Boston area. And when they wanted to describe those things that set their hearts to tingling with joy they said "wicked pissah" (never pisser, always pissah). The first time I heard it there was a pause before I figured out what they meant. Eventually it became a familiar phrase rooted in my brain. I'm sure my mother was glad that the phrase didn't become part of my vocabulary.
I moved to the Boston area just over a year later (yes I'm that old) and was able to pick out the locals at my college by their use of the word wicked. In the intervening years the phrase wicked pissah has fallen out of use, at least in the circles I run in, but on those rare occasions when I hear it I am instantly back in that long ago summer in the woods of New Hampshire.
I spent the last couple of days with the But Wait and Sassafras families on Cape Cod. This morning was a momentous one - D lost his first tooth. I'm scooping his Mommy with her permission so that Grammy and Grampy can see the toothless grin.
Tuesday night when I got home from work I loaded the kayak gear into and onto the car. I'd decided last weekend while on my way to the batting cages that aren't there anymore where I wanted to paddle. So, everything was in place for an early morning departure. That was the plan anyway.
Yesterday I woke up a bit later than intended, and it took me a while to get going. So it was almost 11 before I got out of the house. It was nice to have the gear ready to go so no more time was wasted.
My intended target was the Sudbury River. I put in just off Route 20 in Wayland (just west of Russell's Garden Center for those who know the area). There is a small parking area here and the edge of the river has a nice sandy bottom, although it does drop off pretty quickly. I was on the river by 11:20, and headed south (upriver) toward Framingham.
It was a slightly gloomy day, with a solid cloud cover. The weather gurus had promised that we wouldn't get rain until late in the day, so I wasn't too worried about that. There was a steady wind which when coupled with the current of the river made for a bit of a workout.
The river takes a hard left turn under Route 20 then a right turn under an old railroad bridge. From there river widens and passes through an area with marsh on one side and tree lined shores on the other. One more bridge, and the river widens a bit more. This stretch had fairly significant waves, particularly when you consider that this is usually a quiet river. I'd paddled here before (last fall), although on my previous trip I started further downriver (just off Route 27). There is a country club on the south/east shore of the river at this point but the only sign of human habitation is a path lined with curb stones that comes down to the water.
Once I'd passed the country club I entered the portion of the river I hadn't traveled before. The shore gives way to marsh at this point and the river meanders along. I passed a couple of other paddlers as I worked my way through the marsh. The view here is grass, grass and yes more grass. Finally when it seemed the marsh would go on forever I paddled around another bend and saw deep shade ahead. The marsh had given way to tree lined banks.
I had my first critter sighting of the day as I entered the shade provided by the trees. Slithering off the bank into the water was a beaver. It was quick, but the coloring and texture were definitely beaver. My guess was supported by trees showing definite beaver damage along the banks.
This picture is not one of those. This is the root system for a clump of trees (I'm not sure what kind). There were several of these along this stretch of the river. I'm fascinated by the patterns the roots make.
Most of the rest of my trip was between tree lined banks, and in tree littered water. As the river moves into Framingham, the evidence of humans increases. This stretch of the river is ripe for a clean-up effort. I had to wonder if the plastic tricycle caught in a downed tree was the result of flooding or littering. And the tires (I must have seen a dozen) - were those the remnants of swings, or do we really think that rivers make good dumping grounds.
I went just beyond the bridge pictured at the top, which isn't so much a bridge as a pier. If you look carefully you may notice that there is water to the right of the bridge. The water flows pretty rapidly here, but with a little work it can be conquered.
Just beyond the bridge a large white pipe arches over the river. This pipe brings drinking water from the Quabbin Reservoir to greater Boston. Our town doesn't get it's water from the Quabbin, ours comes from wells in town. The pipe is impressive.
Turning around was sweet bliss. Although the urge to see what was around the next bend in the river was strong, the time and slightly tired muscles convinced me turning around was in order. I love the feeling of having the trip go from the work of paddling against the current to the freedom of steering while the river provides the power. As much as possible I plan trips so the the downriver portion comes after the upriver portion.
The critter sightings were few on this trip. In addition to the beaver, and a squirrel or two, I saw lots of little birds (I'll have to figure out what they are one of these days), and a red-winged blackbird or two. The critter highlight of the day was the heron which took off from the river bank over the front of my kayak about 1/2 mile before the put in.
I pulled the boat out of the river at 2:05. It was a very nice trip and a great way to spend part of my day off.
The lavendar is blooming, and the coreopsus are just awakening. The green on the right are day lillies, and the green behind the coreopsus is a combination of bell flower (campanula) and balloon flower (platycodon). This picture makes it look like we have a huge yard. What isn't obvious is the road that runs between our yard and the large trees and our neighbor's houses just out of frame to the left and right.
Closeup of the English lavendar.
The coreopsus with the lavendar behind. The pale stems between them are Russian sage which is not yet blooming.