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Rowers Stories

A Case for the Morning

Budd Glassberg in his Boat "Rows Budd"
Budd Glassberg in his Virus TurboII "Rows Budd"

Reprinted with permission from the Zionsville Times Sentinel on October 22, 2003

It is a quarter to five. No one else is up. Try as I might, I just can’t say no to the morning. There is stillness in the house that draws me out of bed. No television, radio, or stereo. Even the appliances appear to be asleep. This is the time before family. I put on my rowing clothes and take Winnie (the dog) out. As she relieves herself, I grab the paper and glance at the headlines. It is still dark as I head to Eagle Creek Reservoir (in Indianapolis) and there is no traffic on the roads.

It is absolutely quiet in the boathouse. The boathouse has a scent that just smells like rowing. I wheel “Rows-Budd”, a Virus Turbo II Wing, down to the dock and rig her. It is still dark as I push off and silently row under the 56th Street Bridge to the south reservoir. The sun takes its very first peek on top of the trees on the eastern side of Eagle Creek Reservoir. A bass jumps out of the water and flops flat as it hits the water on return. Birds cross in front of the sun silently making their way across the sky. There is a purple tint on ripples of water reflect part of sun’s glancing. I notice the rhythmic cadence my oars make upon entering the water and the soothing little splash sound they make at the end of each stroke as I raise them out of the water. I am rowing by rote, not paying attention to my strokes, not trying to go faster, and just trying to blend in with the water.

The sun now rises slightly above trees, painting a straight orange streak in the water. The trees along the western bank now shout of reds, yellows and orange on a green canvas while the eastern bank reflects a dull shadow. A stunning blue heron flies overhead as graceful in the air as it is clumsy on the shore. The clouds to the west lose their pink tint and put on their white clothing for the day. The fading full moon to the west makes a rapid exit.

Early birds Terry Hardy and Winter Vik pass me in their singles sculls heading north as I continue south to the dam. We do not waive to each other. There is no waiving in rowing as both arms are in use. Instead a nod of the head suffices. A half mile later I see two eight-person shells on the water. As I approach, I notice it is two Butler crews, with coxswain’s barking instructions. It is the first human voice I hear this morning.

I stop at the dam and tie my oars together while I sip water and lay back on the boat viewing the sky. In no hurry, I marvel at the morning. God’s masterpiece of creation, available to all of us, but viewed by few.

On the way back I pass Rick’s Boat Café and listen to the moored boats creak and the water splash their sides. Along the way I see a fisherman in his boat with his first catch of the day. Then my proximity to the east shore discloses that the east bank is not as dull as I had pictured, but the indirect sunlight now shows its refined colors. Fatigue begins in my legs, but it feels good. My pace slows slightly, but the boat still makes progress with each stroke. The dam appears much smaller now so I must be approaching the bridge. My hat with its mirror allows me to navigate through the bridge without turning around. As I go under the 56th Street Bridge I observe fishermen in their waders casting along the shore. Minutes later I dock my boat, remove her oars, and begin to wheel her back to the boathouse as Ken and Jan Cutler are rolling their shells to the water. I speak my first words of the day.
“Beautiful morning!”

Budd Glassberg, “Good Sports” columnist from the Zionsville Times Sentinel