Friday, May 7, 2010

Two Coots in a Canoe by David E. Morine

It’s hard to say what this book is actually about. Two retired gentlemen, one an avid conservationist, decide to canoe down the Connecticut River together. Since they don’t want to camp out or haul along supplies, they publicize their trip as relying on “the kindness of strangers” to feed them and give them a place to sleep. One of the gentlemen, Ramsay Peard, a retired CEO who is NOT a conservationist, does the work of lining up names and numbers of people who agree to offer them hospitality along the way.

This is mostly a book for older folks, who have an interest in two men aged around sixty, committing themselves to a 400-mile journey when they really are not even used to canoeing. There are nice snapshots of different families they stay with, and details of the politics involved in creating land trusts for conservation development. I learned that dams can play havoc with a river, piling up sediment that increases plant growth, slowing water flow and hurting the fish life.

As other reviewers have noted, “Two Coots in a Canoe” is as much a study of the two men's relationship as it is of the problem of keeping rivers alive and beautiful. While the author, David Morine, has been friends with Ramsey for many years, Ramsey has episodes where he refuses to communicate. Cantankerous and beset with anxiety regarding old age, Ramsey displays the angst that can accompany retirement, especially for those for whom their work was their primary motivation in life. I found this a thoughtful book, as well as a good read.


Librarian the Luke said...

Would you say it is "Grumpy Old Men" on a river?

Rebecca said...

Well, Ramsey's grumpy, Morine (alias "Bugsy") is not.