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What the heck is "usufruct", you might ask?

>> Friday, May 27, 2011


Okay, this tale requires a little back story:

I have this best girl friend (to whom I shall refer as "Sneaksleep") who's been my:

voice of reason
laugh sharer (a whole lot of this!)
fierce Scrabble competitor
fashion consultant
assumption challenger
sanity check
advice columnist
book recommender
Spanish translator
secrets vault
recipe source
sounding board
life coach

for the past... let's see... 20 years, I guess it is.  She's totally amazing, in about 15 zillion ways I couldn't even begin to sum up here.  We met in 10th grade when I started at a new school, and quickly became absurdly inseparable.  We spent so many hours together in high school that I swear we achieved some new type of symbiosis.  And though we've gone through some periods since then where we spread our wings more independently and talked less frequently, we have settled into this comfortable and somehow essential friendship that anchors me.  Although she lives several hours away, we still chat probably five days out of each week, about every subject conceivable.

Many of our shared social hours in our high school days were spent at her house, in part because she lived within walking distance of our school, and I lived clear across the city.  But also, her family is beyond awesome, too, and over the years have become my "other" family.  Her little brother is the closest thing I'll ever have to a brother, and I still adore, look up to, admire, and am inspired by her parents.

Sneaksleep's parents have a truly amazing house in Maryland, which I shall perhaps do a separate post about.  And yet, they are leaving Maryland, selling the house, and fulfilling a dream of living in Ireland.  And I have to admit, the new house in Ireland is pretty much even cooler and more amazing than their incredible Maryland retreat.

BUT (and here's where I get to the point), in moving to Ireland, there are a lot of possessions that they have accumulated over the years that it doesn't make sense to ship across the ocean.  Two of those possessions are (drumroll, please)...

... canoes.  Really nice ones.  A ginormous 18.5 foot Sawyer fiberglass canoe, and (*insert squeal of delight*) a beautiful 16' kevlar Old Town Canadienne that is so light I can easily portage it myself.

So, Sneaksleep's parents made a proposal to my husband and me.  Was there any chance we'd be willing to store the canoes long term in some secure/protected place (our barn)?  We would be free to use them as much as we like, so long as they would also be available to them and their kids for use, or claim by Sneaksleep and/or her brother, should they ever choose to claim them.  (The legal term for that arrangement, I believe, is "usufruct"). 

I have been longing to buy our own canoe for years.  Although we have access to my Dad's awesome old aluminum Grumman canoe, to which I have a significant emotional attachment, it is a bit of a beast for trips that require a portage.  Plus, it's at Dad's house, which makes any canoe excursion more involved since we have to pick it up and drop it off.

So last weekend my husband and I tootled our way down to Maryland to spend one last weekend with Sneaksleep's parents before they set sail.  On our way back, we stuffed the car full of all sorts of wonderful and absurdly random stuff they are unable to take with them, like excellent stereo equiment with turntable, an exceedingly eclectic mix of records, vintage fur hats, canoe paddles and life vests, and 5 baby Japanese maple trees.  Then we strapped the two canoes to the roof of my car, on a 78" wide Yakima roof rack.  My husband affectionately refers to the rack as "the brainer", since you practically brain yourself with it every time you get in or out of the car.

The whole return trip was a titch ridiculous.  As someone in the course of the weekend said, it almost looked like the whole thing should be flipped upside down, with the car being transported by the canoes.  The drive home took almost two hours longer than the drive down, since one can't exactly speed with canoes strapped to the roof of the car.  Although, it's amazing how much of a wide berth other vehicles give one when one's vehicle is as wide as a tractor trailer and even more cumbersome.

But, canoes!  Canoes!  I am so danged excited to have that lovely little Old Town canoe around, that I can barely stand it.  The Sawyer is nice, too, but heavy, so we'll probably only be using it when more than just the two of us are going out. 

Which, by the way, shall happen in the near future.  Sneaksleep and I have planned an Adirondack weekend camping trip this summer, which will be her awesome husband's virgin camping trip.  He grew up in Mumbai and is a city person, to say the least.  To him, downtown Syracuse is the hinterlands.  Poor guy - an Adirondack camping trip at a rustic location, far away from car, roof and plumbing is going to be quite a shock.  Stay tuned for the future blog post on that adventure!


Woodswalker May 27, 2011 at 10:40 AM  

Happy paddling, you guys! Those canoes look great. But you really should save your pennies to buy a solo 12-pound Hornbeck for yourself, Woodswoman, one you can use to sneak away all alone.

Nice story, thanks for telling it.

sarah May 27, 2011 at 12:03 PM  

Yay! Enjoy the canoes! We have 12' kayaks, and being able to hoist that sucker up onto the roof of our Ford Escape all my myself makes me feel like Wonder Woman.

You are lucky to have such a great friend in Sneaksleep. I have such a friend, and we refer to each other as our wives.

Sneaksleep May 27, 2011 at 12:21 PM  

As usual, you have the power to make me laugh and cry all at the same time. Love you. Can't wait for our camping trip!

Woodswoman Extraordinaire May 27, 2011 at 3:39 PM  

Woodswalker, twelve pounds? TWELVE? That's incredible!

Sarah, heh, "wonder woman." Awesome.

Sneaksleep, dearest, right back atcha. Love you, too. :)

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