Which brings me to Boris. I bumped into Boris when I was launching from Columbia Island Marina with a couple of friends on a cool December morning. Our goal was to paddle up to Fletcher's Cove Marina and rendezvous with a Meetup Group outing being organized by our friend Deke. Boris was there indepedently and launched behind us, but he did wind up catching up with us once we met up with Deke's group. Initially all I knew about Boris was that he was paddling a gorgeous work of art - a strip-built baidarka style kayak. Museum quality stuff, and not a kit like my Shearwater.
Deke's group was composed of a bunch of fairly inexperienced paddlers and some stand-up paddle boarders. We paddled up river together past Chain Bridge, but when Deke took the group up into the squirrely currents at the base of Little Falls I decided to hang back and have a snack. Taking that group into challenging currents in the cold waters of December seemed foolhardy to me and I just didn't want to be in the middle of it. For the record, the group did wind up with someone in the water -it was Deke himself who fell off his SUP; fortunately he self-rescued without incident.
|Meeting up with Deke's group at Fletcher's|
As we paddled back I learned that he was a Soviet Jew who had been part of the major Soviet Jewish emigration wave which took place in the 70's through 90's (just like Mila Kunis!). He had lived in Israel until eventually work took him to the U.S. - to Brooklyn, and finally Silver Spring, Maryland. As we paddled and talked he figured out that I was Jewish too. He was thrilled and amazed to discover another Jew on the water, and one who shared Brooklyn and Litvak roots at that (my mother's family, if you trace it a few hundred years, is from Boris' home city of Vilna). He excitedly exclaimed, in his Lithuanian/Russian accent, how unusual it was and how rare it was in all his years of kayaking to run into another Jew on the water (I have found this to be true as well).
Having basked in ethnic bonding all the way down the river we exchanged numbers, promising to kayak together again. It being the last day of Chanukah* we wished each other a chag sameach (happy holiday) and went on our ways - two modern day Noahs, each with our own little personal wooden arks.
|Boris' & my kayaks|