In the early morning light, the Schuylkill River glowed with the luminosity of a pearl.

As Fenimore gazed from his train window, a dark speck glided onto the still surface. Was it an enterprising oarsmen risen early to get in a few practice strokes before a big race? Or an ordinary citizen out for a recreational row? Fenimore had rowed for fun and relaxation when he was an intern, whenever he could fit it in, which wasn’t very often. And his father had done so before him. It was the perfect antidote to the hectic rush of medical school. He remembered the bliss of rowing in a singles shell for all he was worth, then resting, raising his oars and listening to the solitary blip…blip…blip of the water dripping off his oars into the river—as if they were the last sounds on earth. Was there anything more peaceful than that? After a row, he would return to the chaos of the hospital feeling refreshed and ready to go.

Why had he stopped rowing? Why had he given up something he had enjoyed so much? Had life become that busy? Or was this just an excuse for pure, unadulterated sloth? Was life really worth living if you couldn’t spend a few hours a week doing something you really loved? Nonsense. It was just a matter of discipline. He would stop by the Windsor Boat Club and renew his membership next week. As soon as he got back from this cardiology conference. He’d be damned if he’d lead a life of quiet desperation like Thoreau described, with no joy in it. With the air of someone who has made an important decision, Fenimore shook open his Inquirer and began to read what evils the world had concocted while he was asleep.

(to be continued)



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©2006 Robin Hathaway