Let Them Paddle: Coming of Age on the Water (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Books, 2012) is a book I approached with some trepidation. First, it’s a coming of age story, which, as a father of four, is a scary future that awaits me. Second, the type size in this book is incredibly small, which made it seem more difficult to read than it ultimately was. Once I started reading, however, I was captivated.
Let Them Paddle is the recounting of three canoeing trips, each one celebrating one of the author’s children. The rivers are chosen based on the river that Kesselheim and his wife paddled while she was pregnant. Each trip is unique, much like each child, and is an opportunity for Kesselheim to relate some family history, as well as some local lore, plus add in some environmental observations. It all adds up to wide-ranging literature that draws you in.
I can empathize with Kesselheim, at least as a father and his need for some quiet time: On his son (though for me it could relate to any of my four): “He alternates between making me proud and driving me crazy.” My children are often shocked and amazed that I get up so early each day, usually well before dawn: ”I’m in no rush, but the crack between night and day is my sanctuary, a coffee-infused still spot before the downriver enterprise lurches on.” I'm sure many parents can relate.
Do you want to know how impactful this book can be? While I was reading it, I was charged with excitement to start paddling again – it’s been 5 years since we sold our canoe in Florida and moved north. Our oldest son doesn’t remember paddling the bayou near our St Petersburg home and that makes me somewhat sad. But we have paddling water near us, both rivers and lakes, including Lake Michigan. So I did what any person would do after reading this book – I got a canoe. Luckily, my in-laws have some from their years in Scouting, so it was simply a matter of driving to their house, rooting through the overgrown storage area behind the garage, digging up some paddles, and strapping it to the roof of my car. Cannot wait to get out on the water!
About The Author: "Alan S. Kesselheim lives with his family in Bozeman, Montana. He is a contributing editor to Canoe magazine and writes for a number of other publications. He and his wife, Marypat Zitzer, have canoed the Far North several times, explored southwestern deserts, pedaled thousands of miles on bike tours, skied and backpacked through the Rockies, and hiked the Appalachian Trail. They lecture extensively about their wilderness adventures."
(Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free to review on my blog, courtesy of Fulcrum Books. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)
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