Funny how life goes from zero to 60 so quickly. I’ve been running like a squirrel on a wheel since, oh, July 20, when my sister came for the Ann Arbor Art Fair, followed in tag-team fashion by my great good best friend Deb, who was here through the weekend. Then the cable went out, we went to Cedar Point and I got two freelance assignments, so I’ve been a bit stacked up.
In the middle of it all, though, I took a weekend rowing clinic held by the Detroit Women’s Rowing Association. The club is headquartered at the Fisher Mansion, a typical Detroit attraction — a once-glorious showpiece home now owned by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. Many of the home’s wowza details are gone — the pool is filled in, as is the yacht-sized indoor boat well, essentially a boat garage where Lawrence Fisher’s guests could pull right into the house and disembark into a room worthy of their wealth. But the house never really fell all the way apart, and touring it was a nice ending to a day and a half of struggling to learn to row. It was strange to see this gilded-age mansion now decorated with Krishna-themed artwork and elephant sculptures. The house was donated to the group by two Krishna devotees, a Ford and a Ruether, big names here in the D, a fact I found amusing.
We were led around by an affable Hare Krishna named Ray (he told us his spiritual name, but I forget what it was), who wore not saffron robes but plain old Detroit street clothes. He said he’d been HK since 1969, had four children and nine grandchildren. I told him he didn’t look old enough for that, and that vegetarian food must agree with him. He said meat is the source of most human illness, but he was about 1 percent as adamant on the subject as any random vegetarian I know. All in all, he was so friendly and laid-back he was probably the best single advertisement for the group I’ve yet seen. I pointed to a framed poster and asked, “Is that your mantra — Hare Krishna Hare Rama?” He smiled and said, “See? You’re already one of us — you just don’t know it yet.”
I doubt it. I like cheeseburgers too much.
As for the rowing, well, it was a good experience, but I don’t know if I’m cut out for the competition. After weeks of erg torture, it felt great to get out on the water and see what it’s really all about — just you and three other tippy novices in a boat 40 feet long and not much wider than your toilet seat, skimming along the canal. But as with horses, the point of all that work seems to be to compete against other rowers, and I’m just not cut out for that sort of thing. When I was riding, I found a good round of fences that happened during practice as satisfying as the ones that came during shows, and after a while came to resent the enormous expense and hassle of showing. I think rowing would be the same — beautiful cool mornings on the river, watching the foxes and pheasants play at the riverside, etc., punctuated by stressful, hellish regattas. Maybe not.
But I think so.
Anyway, looks like I’m back in the sliding seat for now. Let’s see if I can keep it up.