June 06, 2006


My train passes over at least three decent size rivers before reaching NY -- Westport, Norwalk and Greenwich each have one. I look at them with great attention each time I pass over them. They are always different -- be it the tide or the weather or just the way the sun happens to be reflecting off the water at that given moment. This morning I was treated to seeing rowers rowing crew. They skimmed over the water in, from my distance, total silence. The oars rose and fell as if one, coordinated by the same central nervous system. The quad sculls (four rowers) skimmed over the water as if barely touching it; on it but apart from it; existing with it but clearly not of it. The sun was barely up and reflecting towards the water and they rowed away from it, as if chasing tomorrow. It was simultaneously ethereal and the product of great effort.

I love watching crew and I particularly like crew art. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an outstanding collection of paintings of rowers. Can't find it online at their website, but well worth a visit the next time you are in Philly.

Posted by Random Penseur at June 6, 2006 10:02 AM | TrackBack

I coxed for years in college, grad school, and at the club level in Boston (where else?), including 4 runs at the Head of the Charles. That combination of enormous effort (of others, okay) and sublime grace ... well, it's addicting. And thanks for not spelling it "skulls".

Posted by: Caroline at June 6, 2006 03:01 PM

My old coach once said that when done right, crew is the most beautiful sport in the world. When done wrong, it's the ugliest.

There's nothing quite like being in a boat that's doing it right or, as oarsmen say, is "swinging". The combined power seems greater than the sum of each oarsmans' blade and the entire boat feels as if it's gliding on top of the water instead of through it.

Posted by: Robert the Llama Butcher at June 8, 2006 12:15 PM

RP, some of Thomas Eakins' rowing images may be seen here and here.

Did you know I may have been the only coxswain on the Charles ever to have impaled a sailboat with an eight and lived to tell about it? (Mine was a very short career behind the megaphone.)

Posted by: MCNS at June 9, 2006 08:13 PM
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