Paddling on the Annisquam River – exercise, meditation, or social outlet? All of the above!

Promoting Optimal Wellness for Body, Mind and Spirit

Promoting Optimal Wellness for Body, Mind and Spirit

Exercise and Meditation in Nature on Beautiful Cape Ann.

Paddling the Annisquam – Yesterday I headed out “for a quick paddle before the storm.” Once on the water, my senses were engulfed by the beauty and peacefulness of my surroundings. I began to paddle slower. Getting into a natural rhythm. ‘Meditation in motion’ with each stroke; reflective and introspective. Then, occasionally sprinting for aerobic exercise and interval training, interspersed with moments of meditation. Inhaling deeply, exhaling completely. Fresh salt air filling my lungs felt healing. Gliding alongside the salt marsh I was accompanied by swooping swallows, soaring elegant egrets, and stately cormorants perched on rocks and buoys to dry their wings.

Cormorant Drying Its Wings

Cormorant Drying Its Wings

Did you know that in some areas of Japan, Cormorant (umiu) are used for fishing (ukai?) I wonder if any Gloucester fisherman have tried this?

Keisai Elsen's print of Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River, Japan

Keisai Elsen’s print of Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River, Japan

Ever-present sea gulls were there looking to steal a meal. Sandpipers piping, ran along transient beaches formed by low tide. Auntie Vi, God rest her soul loved ‘the peeps,’ as she called them. I was reminded me of Florida. The sand so white in some parts of the Annisquam, that I am ‘transported’ to Siesta Key. The water so clear I can see large quahaug shells, the kind used for clam chowdah, empty, littering the sand beneath.



Memories flash through my mind, triggered by all of my senses – Auntie Vi and Uncle Roger had the “BEST Clam Bakes Evah!!” Rogah would haul lobsta pots from his Novi boat. My husband and his brothers”‘baited the traps’ with old, smelly fish, left out in the sun.” Imagine that!  

Novi boat

Novi boat

I was distantly aware of the sound of boat engines as they navigated through the twists and turns of the channel. I kept an ear on the boats and an ‘eye on the sky.’ The weather channel predicted storms around 2 p.m. The Claudia and Marie lobster boat heads in. I wondered if I should too? Maybe they know the storm is coming closer. But the river’s tantalizing charm and beauty keep me entwined in its web of waterways.

Summer Sunset on the Annisquam

Annisquam River and Pearce Island

The slower I paddled the more I noticed, around me and within. Internally and externally I became more aware of areas where I was holding tension. With greater awareness, more tension can be released and let go. As if the clean, clear water washed over and cleansed me, my body healthier. My mind is clear. My heart filled with joy. Puffy white clouds reflected in the water. Storm clouds loomed in the distance.

Cumulonimbus Clouds

Cumulonimbus Clouds

Cumulonimbus clouds – These puffy white clouds are the ones to pay attention to. Beautiful to look at, but indicate potential thunderstorms. Remember – Any port in a storm! 

Letting Go of the ‘To Do List’ is Easier on the Annisquam – I switched my goal from exercise to simply enjoying a beautiful day on the water. Summer goes by too fast not to enjoy it!  Across the river I notice two men in bright blue, single outriggers. Did you know that Wikipedia lists 57 different shades of blue on their chart, from A-Z? Including Azure, Baby blue, Celeste, Colbolt, Cornflower, Cyan, Denim, Indigo, Iris, Maya blue, Persian blue, Prussian blue, Royal blue, Sapphire, Sky Blue, Teal, Turquoise, Ultramarine and Zaffre…to name but a few. A client recently described the ‘blue’ in their visualization as ‘Bahama Blue.’ Lovely description! What color blue were those outrigger? 

Azure Blue

Azure Blue

I guess ‘azure blue.’ Drawn by the beautiful color and thinking they are here for the BBC, I paddle over to say ‘hi.’ Oscar and Jeff are here from Washington D.C., paddling single outriggers in the Blackburn Challenge, out on a practice run to familiarize themselves with the course. They tell me the marine forecast was changed –  storms aren’t expected until 5 pm. Yes!! I have more time to spend on the Annisquam. The ‘to do list’ completely floats out of my conscious mind, and I head to Lobster Cove in Annisquam. From the water I admired the beautiful homes with manicured lawns and gardens, and more blue, as hydrangea seemed to be everywhere.

More paddlers came by. One was my Reiki Student Nancy, a nurse. She was with her friend Gay who owns I.C. Treats.

I.C. Treats Ice Cream Boat

I.C. Treats Ice Cream Boat

(Photo © Courtesy Donna Ardizzoni at

Look for this ice cream boat at Wingaersheek Beach on weekends.  What a treat! These lovely ladies invited me to join them paddling, and guided me to to an area on the river where I had never been. Here, hidden behind small salt marsh islands are still waters, free of motor boats, at least for now at mid tide. Just us and a few sea gulls. A returning tide carries us effortlessly up the river.  A beautiful day on the Annisquam exercising, meditating, socializing; peaceful, relaxing and energizing.

Storm on the Horizon

Storm on the Horizon

After my paddle, my husband and I head to Lobsta Land for his traditional ‘pre-Blackburn carb-loading meal’ – shrimp provencal and an Allagash White beer. At Lobsta Land, the food is consistently good, the wait and bar staff friendly, the views of the marsh lovely, the atmosphere fun; a lot like Cheers. We watched this storm moving east, down the Annisquam to the ocean; great views of the storm  over the salt marsh. I just missed a photo of an impressive lightening bolt. Wonder if any FOB were able to capture the lightening flashes?

Waiting for the Storm to Pass

Waiting for the Storm to Pass

At Lobsta Land Restaurant​ we met 2 men from Ottawa Canada, Chris and Bruce, in town for the Blackburn. Chris told us he was so focused while training in the harbor, he “almost hit one of the tall ships.” From his description, “black and about 100 feet long,” I think it might have been the Schooner Adventure or Thomas E. Lannon. Whichever tall ship she was, the captain had to blow his horn to prevent a collision. Amazing focus Chris, not to see that! 🙂 The couple dining next to us live on Pavilion beach with a front row seat for the finish of the BBC.

Schooner Adventure

Schooner Adventure

(Photo © Courtesy Joey Ciaramitaro)

The Blackburn Challenge is Today! Come on down to the Gloucester High for the start (7 a.m.) or stop by vantage points along the way – Corliss Landing, Lighthouse Beach, Andrew’s Point, Eastern Point, or the finish at Pavilion Beach, by the infamous greasy pole. This fleet of human-powered boats is a sight to be seen. Participants are challenged by skill, courage, endurance and perseverance, just like its namesake – Howard Blackburn who, while fishing in an open dory at sea was separated from the mother ship by a blizzard. With his hands frozen to the oars, he rowed five days without food or water until he reached land in Newfoundland. He went on to set a record for swiftest solo sailing voyage across the Atlantic that stood for decades. For more on Howard Blackburn, read Joe Garland’s Lone Voyager.

Today’s Marine forecast – “71 degrees, partly cloudy, north east winds, 5-10 knots, seas 2-3 feet.”

“Perfect paddling conditions” according to my husband, who is competing in his 8th BBC this year. Be sure to check the marine forecast before you head out onto the water.

Good luck to All that are paddling and rowing today’s  Blackburn Challenge! Be Safe and Have Fun!   ~ Karen Pischke

See you at the Blackburn!  ~ Karen Pischke BSN, RN

Karen Pischke B.S.N., R.N. Owner/Founder of Dreamtime Wellness™  Promoting Optimal Wellness for Body, Mind & Spirit Find us on Facebook –

Disclaimer: This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about health and related sub­jects. The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately licensed physi­cian or other health care worker. Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor or 911 immediately. The views expressed on this blog and web­site have no rela­tion to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other insti­tu­tion with which the authors are affiliated.




One thought on “Paddling on the Annisquam River – exercise, meditation, or social outlet? All of the above!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s