It’s just a year since I got to the Netherlands. This is actually a prettier autumn than last year; it’s been crisp and clear, so the leaves are staying on the trees and changing colors beautifully instead of simultaneously turning brown and all falling off, whump.
Yesterday I went out rowing on a narrow Dutch canal on a perfect autumn day. The trees arching overhead were ablaze with fall’s gold; they’d shed enough leaves to carpet the canal, but not so many as to dim their own blaze. The air smelled of autumn.
It’s a good crew, too: we range in age from 28 to 51, and in ability from one who’s pretty decent but just learned a few years ago to one who’s competed at the highest level of Dutch rowing. Honest rowers, each putting out her share of the boat’s power without slacking off, each working on her own issues without blaming anyone else for any problems. The cox (husband of one of the rowers) is relatively inexperienced but intelligent, interested in what he’s doing, and can steer an excellent course.
And it was a good row. We worked hard enough to get a workout but did mostly short hard pieces, so as to not wear ourselves out before Saturday’s race. We did 10-20 stroke pieces at rates from 24-32, as well as some longer pieces at high pressure but a very low rating. After the 32-rate, we did 1 km at our normal race rating of 28 and it was a nice controlled 28, achieved through the pressure of the drive rather than through racing up our slides. I know the above is only meaningful to other rowers; what I mean to say is that I went home with my muscles feeling like they’d been worked but not overworked, ready for dinner and bed but not overtired. It was pleasantly cool out so I wasn’t even too sweaty.
But the thing is… this was probably my last training row with this crew. Our race Saturday will probably be our last outing together as a team, before I move off to Taiwan. After that someone else will be in bow seat. (I told one of the other rowers that I hope they win their first race without me …. but just a second slower than we’d have rowed it.) If I’m lucky I’ll get to row once or twice more here before leaving and if I’m extra lucky I can arrange one row in a double and one in a single, but this is the last outing in this quad, .
John Myers Myers once wrote about rowing (and I’ve often quoted), “A need of men, generally denied, them, is to feel a part of something which works smoothly and well.” Women too, and this is probably the best crew I’ve rowed with regularly. I may row with some or all of them again, as a guest, in my trips back here. But this week is the last time I’ll be part of this crew, part of a whole instead of an occasional visitor.
Right now, the things here that make me happy are also making me sad, because everything breathes “the last time, the last time.” And today I’ve packed up my office, because this is my last day at the office before the movers come to our apartment, but that’s probably a whole ‘nother entry.