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The Frosty Betrothal

The Frosty Betrothal


It was an ugly rumor, but the source was impeccable: my ex-wife said our son got an email from my long-time paddling buddy’s daughter that the paddling buddy was planning to get married to his girl friend of four years’ duration. This news came an hour before we were to launch on the first overnight paddling trip of 1999, our companions … the lovely couple.


Naturally, I did not believe the rumor, so I confronted our duo at the launch site. Yup, it was true. The first decent weekend of 1999, and it was already ruined. I don’t know what got into those two. Is it my fault? Was there some deadly pheromone in those two pink plastic flamingoes I planted outside their tent last spring? We’ll never know!


Ah well, time to schlepp upriver from Brownsmead (OR, USA), levering the Folbot into the upstream-flowing current (tidal reversal here) of the Columbia River, and sweetly admonishing the beautiful lady in the bow compartment to paddle forward!


A terrible day — sunny, comfy, 40 degree water, no motorboats, shipping traffic crackling on the VHF, mergansers launching on the port side, buffleheads bobbing to starboard, and eagles aloft ahead. Oh man! Gonna get married, and to each other, no less. Must have been those 90 days straight of rain. And Hagen said rain doesn’t hurt you … “revel in it!” Yeah, right.


Becky and I are slow, but the lovers are slower, and what is normally an hour and fifteen minutes stretches to two hours plus, as we drift and slide in the sunshine and crisp air. Finally, the upper end of Tenasillahee Island appears, and we skirt a couple lazy steelhead boats as we gouge the sandy bank, much retreated from its position last fall. Lots of erosion this winter — thanks to La Nina! Dredge spoils of coarse sand are clean, well-drained, and this site is sheltered, also.


An hour later, and serious wine consumption and guacamole ingestion have commenced, in celebration of the inevitable nuptials. Firewood gathered, puffed into flame, and fajitas are enroute over the campstove. Man! It’s nippy! More wine — antifreeze would be better, but this will have to do. After topping off with pound cake under a drizzle of kahlua and raspberries, time for intense harassment. They’re too old to “have” to get married, there’s no reason to consolidate houses, wait, now I know, it’s a simple case of needing cash to finance that basement project. The groom-to-be denies it, but I sense a quivering lip. Or is that just shivering!


Stagger off to tent, stuff my body in the bag, with Becky inside her fleece cocoon inside the bag, and we take turns initiating pee-breaks all night. How can two pairs of bladders be so active? Must be the cold, as rime builds on the tent fly. Day dawns with a chilling fog, and freighters drift through, booping and beeping. Geese herluk! herluk! overhead, seeking a warm landing zone. The sweety gets her tea in bed, and I stoke the fire and help make coffee, sausage, french toast. More stomach groaning, but man! It’s cold! Gotta eat.


Sunshine melts off the frost, and we saddle up, launch, and fight the ebb current up around the head of the island, swinging into a freighter wake as it breaks in the shallows just behind us. Crossing eddylines into the tail current, past abandoned gill net sheds and old cannery sites, lumping past the old wooden drydocks (in salvage for their mongo timbers). More mergansers, a couple more eagles overhead, and geese, geese, geese! Nature’s winning, here, I think!


Just an hour home, tail current and tail wind as helpers, and we unload in the shallows, losing our immersed feet to the water, and stagger our loads to the pickup.


This is fun, fun, fun, fun. Impending marriage or not. Wonder if I’m best man … probably not … maybe they’ll change their minds and just live in sin. That sounds like more fun to me!


Happy boating!

Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
marriage counselor


Copyright 1999 by Dave Kruger.
May not be reproduced or redistributed without author’s permission.
Originally posted on Paddlewise mailing list on 3/17/1999. Republished with permission.