, Newburyport, MA


May 9, 2014

Spring on the water

River paddle gives a different view of Amesbury

After crashing through downtown Amesbury and past old mills it once powered, the Powow River flows through a corridor of protected space before draining into the Merrimack. It’s a nearly two-mile-long reach of river that wends through some of Amesbury’s most bustling habitat. With a couple of hours free and a well-timed incoming tide, I paddled out and back from the lower falls to Alliance Park.

I launched from the public access at the bottom of Mill Street, where trees filled with starlings, bursting yellow forsythias and some of the first tall, green grass I’ve seen this year greeted me. I set out on choppy, rocky water while the falls roared behind me. Dragging my hull a bit, I quickly made it out into deeper water where the current carried me at a comfortable pace to the wider river ahead.

Though still downtown, it felt miles away. Budding willows hung over the water along both shores, with their long and golden-green chains swaying in the breeze. Pipers hopped delicately on mud flats behind Field Street, looking for meals of worms, grubs and little mollusks. A late-afternoon sun shone in brightly, reflecting on dark water and showing off every midge and mayfly hanging in the air.

Paddling alongside the Riverwalk, I waved back at children who ran down to see me drift by. Parents pushing strollers, kids riding bikes and couples walking by old, brick buildings all brought a bit of the town I love down to the riverside.

After a short while of riding the current from the falls behind, I felt the push of the incoming tide ahead. Huge and shiny striped bass jumped into the air and slapped back down on the water off my bow. Cormorants swam smoothly and quickly and disappeared underwater in search of a meal coming in.

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