Thursday, April 27, 2006

Doin' what I like to do

The Potomac River as in enters Mather Gorge is where I spent most weekends as a teenager. Friday evenings friends would start arriving at our house with their kayaks strapped on their cars. We'd spend the evening preparing our boats and gear, drinking and playing music. The morning sun would find us asleep on the cool grass of the backyard, boats, bodies and bottles scattered where they fell. After a hearty breakfast we were off to the river.

The water is still my preferred escape. I've been paddling most of my life. Rolling whitewater, a calm lake, or sun-dappled swamp, I always enjoy my time on the water. The sound of a paddle in the water can melt away the hustle of the workday world like nothing else can.

C'est L'Aviron is a song used by the voyageurs de bois as they penetrated the Canadian wilderness. The way it is performed here by The Boarding Party, brings to my minds eye, a vivid picture of fur trappers singing to paddle their big voyager canoe in unison. The rhythm is perfect.
According to "Folk Songs of Canada" by Edith Fowke and Richard Johnston, this song was collected by E. Z. Massicote in 1927 from the wilds of interior Canada. It appears that the French have quite a few rowing/paddling songs, a style of song notably absent from the Anglo-Saxon repertoire. I have searched my copy of "Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman" (W. M. Doerflinger, Meyerbooks, 1951) and found nothing comparable in English.

The Boarding Party - C'est L'Aviron.mp3

With the weekend in sight, I'll leave y'all with the paddler's traditional farewell...
See you on the river!


Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

The English wrote lots of songs about paddling, a different sort of paddling than the short lived voyageurs were known for however.

April 28, 2006 12:09 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

If you are refering to something more along the lines of "slap & tickle" rather than propelling a canoe, I'll have to agree.

April 28, 2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

I love this song and can see all you described. They are wearing fringed suede coats with those funny hats the French trappers always wore.

May 01, 2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

We must be sharing the same visual, Kat! 'cept I didn't notice the hats until you pointed them out.

May 02, 2006 8:13 AM  

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