Rowing Season


For several weeks Elena’s favorite bedtime song was Row, Row, Row Your Boat, which warmed my heart. It was a great choice for this time of year, when the college teams leave the erg rooms of winter training for the variable weather and cold water. They have to; the racing season comes suddenly and moves quickly. It isn’t like back in Texas, where they can row as much as they want, whenever they want. But the racing seasons are the same–one of Elena’s first outdoor events was a March regatta two years ago, and she showed off her walking skills at regattas last spring.

In keeping with that tradition, a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves at Washington Harbour* along the Potomac waterfront for some early season racing. Gran Ann joined us for the excursion. A funny thing happened just as we got to the water’s edge: Jenny handed me part of a Nutri-Grain bar to pass along to Elena, but as soon as I passed it along Elena threw it into the water for the ducks. Elena didn’t get any more of the snack, but I took the blame for allowing it to happen.

Before long we saw the boats coming under the bridge, angling across the river to the finish line near us. There were lots of other things, like ducks and water taxis, competing for Elena’s attention, and rowing viewed at a distance loses some of its intensity and urgency, but she did spend some time watching them. Once I started cheering in support of the teams, she joined in. During one race I shouted out “Go Big Red!” for Cornell. In the next race Elena shouted “Go Big Red!” even though they didn’t have a boat in the race.


I wanted to watch the last race of the day, between international crews from Brock and Oxford, but there was a long stretch before that with no races that had any particular interest for us. Instead of staying at the waterfront, we decided to walk around the nearby streets of Georgetown. Although she’s taken many trips to DC over the years, my mother had never been there, so it was fun for all of us to explore the empty canal paths and busy streets.

Jenny had an ulterior motive–she wanted to see the home of DC Cupcakes and get some treats. When we got close, we saw that the line was more than a block long, and overheard some locals talking about how funny it was that those weren’t even the best cupcakes in the neighborhood. We followed their recommendation to head over to Baked & Wired. Although it had a line too, it wasn’t nearly as long and the cupcakes were delicious.

We made it back just in time to eat our cupcakes and watch the Brock-Oxford competition, which was certainly the race of the day. There was a monitor hooked up to a live video feed so we could see the first half. Brock blazed out to an early lead, with a maximum advantage of a length at the halfway mark. But then the boys from England dug in and started to reduce the gap with every stroke. They may not have been in the lead for any stroke of the race except the last one, but Oxford pushed their bowball across the line first.

By then it was late in the afternoon and Elena hadn’t napped at all; she was probably more tired than the rowers at the end of a great race. Luckily, we had a great parking spot, but as soon as we got into the car she started to cry. There was nothing to do but let her wail it out until she fell asleep about fifteen minutes away from home. Once at home, we sat in the car for another half hour–opening the doors usually wakes her. It was a small price to pay for a fun day.

*Washington Harbour was in the news this week because of severe rainstorms that caused flooding on the Potomac. They neglected to put the flood wall in place, and as a result many of the businesses on the ground floor of the development experienced significant damage.

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