S’mores by the Russian River

We’d been up to the Russian River for a spot of camping and the children were obviously enamored by the flowing water. It was a  lovely river and the day was even better: Cloudy and just warm enough to not make it uncomfortable. The river was teeming with people – some canoeing, some kayaking, some paddle-boating, some just wading in the waters. There was some sort of boat race, and the local canoeing club was obviously busy with its river rentals and before we knew it, we had saddled ourselves with three canoes, a paddle boat and a highly enthusiastic bunch of children.

The whole experience brought good memories of reading Three Men In a Boat and I found myself looking at the book longingly again. It was time for a re-read.

The daughter and her friends teamed up to canoe out on their own, and made a lot of noise about girl power. They got themselves into the canoe, looking spruce and fit in their life jackets and picked up their oars. They looked ebullient at this new-found independence and pride at having been allowed to strike out on their own.

“Go Girls!” they screamed, but of course nothing happened till the local nib who rented us the canoes untied the thing and pushed it mid-stream.

The toddler son looked forlorn at not being chosen first by his sister to get on the boat. He was usually chosen, why not now? Was it because he could not row? Well, if that was the case, he was going to show her that he could. Yes he was. 

A few minutes later, all the boats had pushed off like drunken lads swaggering from a pub, and only the youngest boys were left behind by their doting sisters.

The boys looked solemn: If their sisters decided to strike out as Four Little Women In A Boat, then they would do their best to be Two Little Men Without A Boat. They found themselves a paddle each and spent the entire hour paddling standing firmly in the water. They took Jerome K Jerome’s words to heart:


“Life was not an idle dream to be gaped and yawned through, but a noble task, full of duty and stern work. ”

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

They found themselves going forward 5 steps and then being yanked back by 3 steps.

It was later that we learned that the girls performed in much the same way downstream when they had difficulty maneuvering their canoe. At first, they resolutely declined help from the men, and preferred to get down themselves to push the boat out again. The river was shallow enough even in the middle of the river bed for the girls to stand and push.

As they sailed into harbor, they were soaking wet and remarkably happy at being able to jump into the water.

The burgers, salads and s’mores after a day like that, were especially welcome to the children.

“We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach.  Reach not after morality and righteousness, my friends; watch vigilantly your stomach, and diet it with care and judgment. ”

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

5 thoughts on “S’mores by the Russian River”

    1. Guiding principles from Three Men in a Boat 🙂

      “We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can’t do without.”

      “Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing. ”

      “It always does seem to me that I am doing more work than I should do. It is not that I object to the work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.”

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