I went kayaking this past weekend.
I agree, that's kindof a crazy idea for late November around here. And I'm certain I wouldn't have even considered the possibility had I not been recruited earlier in the week. My friend Patrick Brough got this crazy idea to string holiday lights across the Nashawannuck Pond, on the wire that holds the American flag all summer long. Turning this 'idea' into reality would require a fair amount of creativity, finances, and friends with water craft.
After assessing the power situation, despite the proximity to the wire's proprietor,Whitely Electric, solar powered lights would be the only practical solution. Perhaps power might be an option another year, but for the first try, solar powered icicle lights offered the only non-cost-prohibitive solution. After an on-line search and visits to all the local spots (Manchester, Aubuchon, etc.), solar icicle lights were found and purchased at Target. Pat took the lights home, rolled them out, and attached them to long thin strips of wood that would attach to the wire.
After getting permission from Mayor Mike to use the now flag-less wire, PBTV Pat made a few calls and emails to friends with rowboats and kayaks. Paul Novak, of the pond dredging, fish rescuing fame, was first to be recruited, since he has a motorized rowboat, much more stable for standing in while floating on very cold water ponds. Next, a few of his kayak-owning buddies would get the call. After seeing a number of my kayak-based photos of Mt. Tom and the pond, he knew I fell into that category. One more friend, Buddy Lapointe, on the shore, working the cable, and the solar icicle team was complete.
So this past Saturday morning we all gathered under the wire over the pond to turn Pat's dream into reality. Turned out, the wire didn't need to be lowered as much as Pat thought, so he really didn't need Derek Allard, Jeff, and me, his kayak spotters.
We were only needed for moral support, but that was ok. The sun shone brightly, and I was dressed for winter skiing conditions, so it was actually invigorating to be out on the pond on this late November day.
With Paul's help in the boat, Pat attached all the lights, turned the solar panels to the sun, and with a yell to Buddy on the shore, the wire was raised back to its tightrope walk position.
I'm guessing it was a long day for Pat as he waited for the sun to go down and the lights to come on. If you drove down Williston Ave around four that night, I'm sure you would have seen him, camera at the ready, fidgeting like a kid on Christmas Eve.
Well, as things turned out, the lights aren't as bright as he'd imagined and hoped. A strand or two are already acting up. But it was a noble idea, and I applaud Patrick's determination to see his idea through to its conclusion.
What makes this a story worth telling?
I guess I just wanted to tip my hat to everyone's friend Pat for the effort, time, and expense. It was a small selfless gesture, and like his good news page on Facebook, motivated by a simple desire to help make Easthampton an even better place to live. Just think, if we all made one tiny little effort, like Paul Novak's nighttime (once during a blizzard I'm told) anonymous hikes to the top of Mt. Tom to replace the bulbs on the star, what a town, and a world, we would have.
On that note, I would be remiss to not mention the gang at the Brass Cat, who too were out on the cold pond this past weekend, positioning the Christmas tree. Thanks to Michael and his band for bringing the tree back to the pond this year! It will be officially lit during the Holiday Stroll this coming Friday, December 3rd starting at 7 p.m. at Maple School.
(images by Patrick Brough.)