Anyone who rows regularly on the same stretch of water becomes familiar with the landmarks – the bridges, bends and buildings. But have you ever stopped to think about how it gives you an unique perspective on your river, on your home town?
We read this fantastic article by Kate Connors about Cleveland OH, an industrial city in the American Midwest.
Rowing has literally allowed me to view Cleveland from a different angle. In the Flats, instead of the ghost town many people expect, I see a vibrant area full of public parks and the buzzing activity of new construction, with colorful bridges and quirky old architecture that give visual distraction during long, hard practices. The way I experience the city changed. Not many people have been inches under a railroad bridge with a train running across it, but I have. I get to see the beauty of the hazy sunrise filtering through the old steel mills, marvel at the towering Guardians of Transportation, and gape at the immense bulk of a freighter making a hairpin turn on its way to the lake, all from a slim boat just inches above the water. The industrial background is not ugly and depressing like I thought for most of my life. Now, it is what makes me proud of Cleveland.
Kate focuses the article on how it was rowing that changed her as a person – not just physically but also mentally.
My coach liked to say that our team was different because we practiced in a place that made us tough. The Cuyahoga River is one of the curviest in the country and can be dangerous, but the way rowing on that river has transformed me is worth every near-death experience with a tugboat. Now, I can tick off each turn in the river, the names running through my head as my boat glides through the water. There’s the industrial Marathon Bend, which is shortly followed by the turn under the new span of the inner belt bridge. The straight stretch by the old Scaravelli Marina opens up into the sweeping vista of Collision Bend, that quintessential view of the Cleveland skyline. Each landmark now has a name, and radio calls no longer seem like the indecipherable code they were when I began rowing. I know the river now. I know the feeling of making that last sharp turn at Columbus Road, the place where I sigh with relief at the end of every practice, because it means the dock is near. I am one of the few who spend time each day navigating the debris washed down from a hard rain, who know just the right angle to come into the dock without scraping the hull (at least, most of the time), and who are lucky enough to feel at home in such a wonderful part of our city.
What about YOUR home river or lake?
What do you see or experience that is special and can only happen from a rowing boat?