methow grist 2011-2014 archive

Boubling Bouquet

This tale had its beginnings with deer. They ate our flowers every summer, especially petunias. This led my wife, Gloria, to speculate ways to keep them away, and her dominant idea was a floating object in our pond that would hold the petunia plants and (maybe) keep the deer away from them.

We thought of many approaches to the concept of floating flowers, among them a sheet of rigid foam insulation, a piece of plywood which in my mind morphed into a flat boat-shaped object. There were other ideas under consideration.

One evening, watching Idaho Public TV there was a piece about a gentle stream in Oregon, a biologist floating gently with the current and viewing the wonders around her. I have been paddling canoes since age ten, never a kayak other than a wooden hybrid “Kayat” that was splintered in white water one year. One of the victims of aging to date is a middle-ear problem that affect my balance, especially getting into a canoe in shallow water. Another is the strain on an afflicted spine loading and unloading a heavy canoe.

The TV program came to mind and it seemed to be an answer for my love of being on the water. No more Class 2 or 3 water, just gentle flat ponds and lakes. With solo kayaks weighing under 40 pounds it seemed a good option.

I placed an ad on the Methow Bulletin Board that read, essentially, that I sought a solo kayak, either cheap or trade for a canoe. Amazingly there were two responses that same day. I got in touch with the first responder and we emailed back and forth as to make, size, weight, how to contact and ultimately agreed to meet at my place. She had little children and needed a canoe as she too, had grown up paddling, but in kayaks, and a solo boat was not much use for getting the children on the water.

She brought with her a cute, yellow Kayak that we unloaded from her car with ease. It weighed under 35 pounds. I set it on the grass and sank my butt into it, sort of squiggled my legs inside and got out. She pointed out that there were foot braces that were could be adjusted for leg length. She was a very diminutive woman. She was happy with the canoe, we made our trade, three of us loaded it onto her car and away she went, both of us happy.

The happiness soon disappeared when I adjusted the foot braces to full length and again, on the grass, got into the canoe. Sharply tapered at the bow, it became apparent that this boat was too small for my feet. No way could I maneuver my feet, short of having my knees at shoulder level - not comfortable and certainly interfering with paddling.

Then the brainstorm hit. I think I brought it up but am certain Gloria had it in mind from the moment I said the kayak was not useable for me. Well, it could be what we were looking for to hold the petunias. Why not?

Thus she found a big pot and a smaller one and planted petunias therein, the two containers fit the cockpit admirably. She had already taken into consideration that it would have to be brought to land when the plants needed watering. I calculated the length of a line from boat to shore that would allow it to float in a large arc in the pond and still be shore-worthy.

We had the official launch on May 25th, witnessed and assisted by our neighbors, the Wezemans. Of course a ship has to have a name when christened, and I pasted the appellation GLORIA’S FOLLY on the stern. We pushed it off and it majestically sailed into the wind and at the end of its tether and gracefully swung to leeward.

However Captain Gloria is not satisfied. The petunia crew aboard are all upright sailors, and my wife wants a more slovenly group. To this end she has purchased some creeping petunias that will reach out from the gunnels into the water. The ship is currently being re-fitted for them.

Whether the deer swim out to eat the crew, or the ducks nibble away at them remains to be seen. I take comfort just knowing that we probably have the most sea worthy petunia pot in the county . . . and beyond.


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