|What inspired YOU?|
Growing up in southern Connecticut, I didn’t get much chance to experience wilderness. We had the ocean – Long Island Sound – we could sail on and we had some marshes and estuaries we could float through on rafts when we were kids. But no true wilderness.
My first year in college at the University of Maine, I went to a lecture given by a journalist whose specialty was visiting remote places by canoe and writing about them and taking pictures of his trips. I don’t remember his name now, but I clearly remember his stories and I remember cornering him after his talk and peppering him with very pointed questions about film and keeping your camera dry and the advantages of wooden-ribbed canoes over fiberglass and so on.
So began my own journey exploring the wild rivers of Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont and the coastline up and down New England in canoes. I enlisted fellow enthusiasts and we took weeklong trips down the Saint John, ran rapids on the Allagash and hired float planes to haul us into remote areas of Moosehead Lake. I wrote stories about proposed dams and the dangers of oil spills and gave slide shows and speeches to Kiwanis Clubs and sociology classes about the value to keeping rivers wild and free flowing.
Journalists are supposed to be objective, but when it came to wilderness and the water running through them, I gave myself an exemption.
I moved away from New England to California and my canoes were replaced with kayaks but I’m still paddling and I’m still figuring out how to keep my camera dry. And like that journalist who inspired me, I try to paddle as much as I can with my daughters in hopes that they, too, will be inspired.