Wafting the Eno River in the Year 2000 - A day by day account 

By Riverdave Owen

        Wafting the Eno River was a public environmental education program I offered through Durham Parks and Recreation from 1990 - 2008 using inflatable kayaks to explore the Eno River.  Over 40,000 individuals participated. In the year 2000 I kept a journal in which I jotted down some of the highlights and challenges of each group that I took out.  After ten seasons of wafting the Eno, the year 2000 was pivotal for my program as I attempted to integrate a shamanic experience into the wafting program on the Eno River.  I spent the previous three winters studying Amazonian shamanism in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela and decided I wanted to integrate these experiences into my life and work along my hometown river. You will note this thread of experimental shamanic practice throughout this journal. 


        Of course I have edited out a few of my most personal comments, but what I present here is an inside glimpse into a season of a naturalist river guide in his native hometown setting of Durham, North Carolina. For more details about how I worked within the context of my community and as a contractor for Durham Parks and Recreation, see my article :  In the following eight years of public Wafting the Eno, I further fine tuned my shamanic techniques, offering a blend of natural history observation, meditation, shamanism and recreation. Wafting the Eno concluded at the end of my 2008 season after a conflict arose with Durham Parks and Recreation due to my vocal opposition to a proposed large housing development adjacent to West Point on the Eno Park. 


Expedition # 1 - April 1, 2000 - morning

        Redbuds and dogwoods in full bloom.  Heard parula and yellow-throated warblers and blue-gray gnatcatchers.  While holding onto roots at Cedar Island, a one foot queen snake crawled onto my hand.  That is the first time I can ever remember that happening. Also lots of cooters on logs to watch.  

        I took out a group of eight. But the biggest distraction was a three year old who wiggled and talked through my sharing times. With all my prayers and dedications this morning, I did forget to recite my "taqriibs and taghriibs," so I allowed a difficult one to slip through the filter!  

        I was flustered and could not hold the attention of the adults and could do almost no meditation work with them under the elm tree.  It was a boat ride, pure and simple. Nice people, but I am going to have to deal with the restless ones next time so as to not drain away the focus.  I am not good at that.  Wow was I agitated with that kid!


Expedition #2 - April 1, 2000 - afternoon

        A group of eleven went with me.  A pair of girls chattering away in Japanese distracted me some, but it was a little improvement over our first group. I was surprised when a wood duck flew out of the first box when I checked it.  Fewer turtles were out in the afternoon.  We worked on trees and got in a short meditation time under the elm. Everyone seemed to be content .  One couple brought bags of food and munched away, being somewhat of a distraction.  I forgot some of my stories in the morning group but brought them back into focus with this afternoon group.

        The wisteria is in full bloom.  We heard crows mobbing a hawk while under the elm. The day had its rough spot.  Between trips I saw a kid throw a big cooter onto the rocks below the dam. It upset me a lot and I yelled angrily at the kids.

         But not bad for a first day of wafting. Nothing like all the energy of last year's first weekend over Easter.  I've got a ways to go in being open to people again.  I've been so self focused for the last six months over winter.  It's as if I have to turn myself inside out once again.


Expedition #3 - April 2, 2000 - afternoon

        Completing this journey was a gift as rain threatened all us day.  We only got light rain and it was warm enough to not matter.  I took a group of twenty Duke literature class students out.  The professor, Peter Fulton, was very game. I focused on Thoreau's use of the word waft, his hometown emphasis, his mystic orientation and his principle on the efficient use of personal energy.  It was fairly well received, although I couldn't get anyone to share about their own experience with Thoreau. 

        Under the elm tree Peter found a queen snake curled on a limb right above his head in an elderberry bush.  This is two days in a row now with queen snakes.  I proposed a three minute meditation to test the elm tree as I did with his group last year.  All cooperated quietly with no giggling.  I mentioned the cartoon in the Chronicle a few days earlier about the "tree of knowledge" who ate the mocker.  I felt like elm the tree was feeding on our meditations and was very thankful for our energy.  It was indeed plant food, a new revelation for me.  

        I mentioned my Amazonian ayahuasca experience to the group and the freshman who was riding with me, Vivica, asked for the website of Sacharuna.  I passed out cards at the end and felt pretty good about the whole experience, even though I lost some energy worrying about the rain.


Expedition #4 - April 2, 2000 - evening

        I lucked out big time on the weather and had no rain. We started out a 7:30 PM with a nice sunset glow in the west.  This was my first moonless night trip planned with Peter Fulton and his Duke literature class of seventeen students.  The wildlife was particularly good with many beavers, zillions of pickerel frogs calling, some fireflies, a great blue heron and deer snorting very loudly in the black lagoon. Toads faintly called in the distance through the woods.  Nice! One beaver even slapped the surface right in our midst under the elm tree.

        I shared four times - under the maple about the Eno River, under the sycamore about the night experience, under the ironwood about Thoreau and a ten minute journey with my drumming under the elm. The entire trip was over two and a half hours.  Some were desperate to go to the bathroom, so I need to strongly encourage that before departure.

        I tried to ascend the elm while journeying but could not see much below.  I visualized myself sending energy through my hands down onto the wafters. Afterwards I ask if anyone would like to share their experience but no one volunteered. That would be asking a lot from a group of students. Plus, I really didn't prepare the way for such a significant journey as I instead spent more time talking about Thoreau.

        But all in all it was a good experience. Several of the kids thanked me heartily. It makes me wonder if doing more night trips without a moon would be the way to go.  I could do one late afternoon group and then one evening group like I did tonight.  


Expedition #5 - April 7, 2000 - morning

        It rained for the entire week before, so I was very thankful to have the gift of twenty people today.  It started out sunny and became gusty, but I had an unusually well behaved group of ten year old birthday partiers, some families from Raleigh and Seattle, and two elderly ladies who seemed to know a lot about the trees.  They pointed out serviceberry or sarvis as the country people call it.  They had never heard of our local name of "shadblow."  I had never noticed the tree by the river across from the sycamore.  It was still in bloom.  I discover something new every year.

       We had a nice birthday wish under the elm tree.  All the kids swam in the Synott Hole.  I wasn't quite ready to plunge.  We caught a seven inch cooter.  Everyone was grateful.  The birthday group were frequent floaters and had very good energy.


Expedition #6 - April 8, 2000 - afternoon

        Big rains fell last night so I cancelled my morning group but went ahead with my afternoon one, despite high water.  A family from India came along with four singles for a total of eight.  Coleen McCarthy joined us after first backing off from the high water and wind. I gave her a life jacket and she had a good time with us.  She thanked me profusely for introducing her to wafting and will be taking wafting to the Potomac River as she moves to Washington DC in June. I will miss her presence on the Eno.

        The Black Lagoon kept us occupied as the main river channel was too swift to paddle.  Turtles were out but it was mainly an encounter with the elements of sun, wind and water.  The sun felt especially nice since the air was cool.  We made it to the elm tree for meditation, then to the ironwood where we had to turn around because of the fast current.  We wafted back as a group.  Everyone had bonded quite well and were merry the entire way.  I was amazed at the cohesiveness of the group.  It was a happy time for which I am thankful!


Expedition #7 - April 9, 2000  afternoon

       Water was still high but it was a most pleasant afternoon.  I got real sleepy but resisted using coffee to get up for the trip.  I took twelve students from the NC State Scholars Program.  They were the quietest group I have ever had.  I suppose they really didn't know one another.  They rescued a caterpillar wafting down the river on a twig.  It seemed like a strange act after just helping my friend Alice kill so many infesting her trees the day before. I am eating young red poison ivy leaves on most of my expeditions now.  My calamus plant is looking healthy in the Black Lagoon.  Facing the sparkling water flowing down from the Synott Hole is always exhilarating.  I thought about how I need to start paying attention to individual wafters as much as I do the river by picking up on their their expressions, questions and behavior.  All this is a lot of work. I realize also how I need to take a nap between groups.  My energy is low in the afternoon.  

        The wood duck hen is on a nest of ten or more eggs.  I've inadvertently chased her out twice when checking.  I hope she gets some chicks that will survive.  Seems like they should be hatching soon.

        I informed the park supervisor Beth Highley about my shamanic journey integration today.  She brought it up at the picnic table.  She didn't seem alarmed and it was good to get over that hump with her.  It had to come up sooner or later. I suggested to her that I may make the search for one's personal power animal a part of our night experience.  I invited her out with her husband to join us on a night group.

        It does seem appropriate for the naturalist-shaman to help people find their power animal, and provide an arena for those who already know it to be able to exercise it.  And then to introduce sacred plants like the maple, sycamore, ironwood and elm - or perhaps just the elm.


Expedition #8 - April 14, 2000  - evening

        It was rainy all day but I decided to go ahead based on Gary McGrady's forecast that rain wouldn't arrive till after midnight.  Only four showed up - a Canadian family that were excited about the rain.  I tried to talk them out of it, but they were determined.  It cleared up nicely for the start, then drizzled, then came light rain after drumming under the elm.  

        It took the two teenage girls a while to calm down but once they did they were gems.  The beavers were very active and one lone peeper called from the north bank all night long.  A pickerel frog sang in the lagoon.   We meditated under the elm as there was not the time or the attention to explain the journey. But they did did well, even asking to share their experiences afterwards.  One mentioned going to a friend she was at odds with and then being struck on the nose by a raindrop.  They asked lots of questions.  I encouraged them to watch their dreams tonight for the elm to speak.  They explained how they felt the boat turn one direction when they had good thoughts and the other direction when they have bad thoughts.  They found it interesting.

        My drumming was powerfully hypnotic in my hands.  I too was wafting in various directions with my eyes closed but when I opened them I had not moved.  There was magical energy there. We paddled back quietly in the rain.


Expedition #9 - April 15, 2000 - afternoon

        I had ten signed up for the afternoon and eight didn't show because of the rainy forecast.  But no rain appeared.  It was a nice cool, cloudy afternoon with one quiet couple from Raleigh. I led them upstream and let them paddle back together on their own.  I followed the green heron for the first time this season.  Checked the wood duck eggs which I found still present and ate young red poison ivy leaves. The young couple just listened respectfully to what I said without much comment.  They were both engineers, civil and electrical, so I dove into my talk about using our senses.  I sang most of my way back as the water wafted me along.  my voice felt buoyant. 


Expedition #10 - April 15, 2000 - evening

        Another huge struggle with the weather but I held out. Several cancelled but I ended up with an eager group of seventeen.  I noticed the water rising at the steps before we left and I was getting apprehensive.  But fog set in and the moonlight on the clouds was quite beautiful.  It was even warm. Lots of beavers and peepers all night long while a pickerel frog moaned up in the Black Lagoon.        

        I was a bit flustered all night though not allowing myself to fully relax.  I wondered if it was because I had someone in my boat?  She was a talker but very attuned to what we were doing.  I think the high water and background lightning kept me from relaxing.  Up the lagoon we experienced light rain for five minutes but everyone assured me it was fine.  On the way up to the elm tree the current was so strong the last three boats barely made it.  The drumming was fair but I didn't feel my five point introduction to journeying was clear.  It was too wordy.  

        A mosquito was on my right ear while drumming so I missed a couple of beats to swish the insect away.  No one shared afterwards.  Two banjo frogs snapped just as I finished drumming as a punctuation then we all wafted back. I had to stand in the water way past my knees to get people out.  It was a difficult night but most were good sports.  Moderate rain is beginning at 11:30 as I write. I am very lucky.  I drummed before folks came.  I've got a long ways to go to have this experience flow well.

        Five point plan for journeying I'm trying to teach:

1 - declare your intention (healing, explore, mission)

2 - decide on your direction ( up, out, down)

3 - call on your helpers (plant, animal, teacher, deceased)

4 - begin dreaming awake (creative visualization)

5 - follow the drum (surf its energetic vibration)

        Not a bad plan but it may need an introduction while we are in the lagoon.  Then we can move to the elm tree to carry it out.  So I could do my welcome statement about the night under the maple, explain the concept of the shamanic journey under the sycamore, layout the plan in the lagoon and execute launch under the elm.


Expedition #11 - April 21 - morning

        Nice group of nineteen with loads of well behaved kids.  I have to be more animated when I'm with the kids to keep their attention.  It was a smooth trip, sharing flowed among receptive hearts.  The meditation under the elm went well.  I need to remind everyone that the elm is a vision tree and is capable of appearing in their dreams. 

        One mentally challenged young girl seemed to be especially receptive.  I felt she would receive revelations.  I am disciplining myself to climb up the inside of the tree and look down and see the wafters spread out below.  It is a challenge I look forward to and I will learn it!  It was windy and the water level was high but we all managed.  Really good morning!


Expedition #12 - April 22, 2000 Earth Day - morning

        Nice group of two extended families and a couple for a total of twenty, half were kids.  Fortunately the turtles and the water snakes were out to entertain them as it was a bit cold and windy with still some high water to paddle against.  The vireos are going nuts today, so this is the first day to experience their vibes.  It was an easy group.  The little scared four year old came alive hunting turtles and was the happiest of all.  We started in blue sky but clouds wafted in.  I announced that it was Earth Day and my birthday under the elm tree.  Things went silent there, not sure what happened.  My family is on the way out here for a picnic.  Nice day.  Two days in a row with lots of animation on my part for the children.


Expedition #13 - April 23, 2000 Easter - morning

        Sunny but still coolI took out a group of six including Barney whom I hadn't seen in four months. There was a girl from India but I never got to talk with her.  She seemed like a loner. We listened to birds.  Another big stereo vireo day on the river.  i could have listened to them forever.  A pair of Cooper's Hawks flew down from the Synott Hole. The mother wood duck was still incubating eggs.  We focused on the ironwoods as I've included another stop under the tree on the south bank after the elm.  Our meditation time was good.  Barney mentioned seeing the elm in Canada.   I stated how sacred trees have distinctive forms - the banyan, baobab and ceiba and the elm.  In their maturity elms are quite distinctive, not to mention the loss of big ones due to Dutch Elm Disease.  Barney and I had leftover birthday food afterwards.  


Expedition #14 - April 23 2000, Easter - afternoon

        Group of seven. I had an African American mother with her two kids who were interesting. One rode with me and did quite well.  More and more ironwood interests.  Gar fish were breaking the surface.  The sun sparkling on the water below the Synott Hole was spectacular as usual on a clear day.  The water finally slowed down some today.  I was fairly content to waft with only seven people.  We made wishes under the elm tree with the children. Nice way to pass the time of day.


Expedition #15 - April 30, 2000 - morning

        A sunny day but the water level is 3.5 feet.  A German family and seven singles headed up against the flow. Two raffle winners from Riverside High School were among the group. The focus of the trip was the reptiles, with two small turtles caught by children and a six foot rat snake coiled atop the second wood duck box.  I pushed it off into the water with my paddle.  The snake tried to climb into a boat with a little girl, but the German fellow pushed it away with his paddle.  It climbed up into a tree so we all got a good view of it. I'm sure it was the same one I caught eating eggs last year.  No eggs in the box this year as it was full of debris from squirrels.

     Two women couldn't get their boats up to the elm tree because of fast water.  The Germans said that the linden tree was the sacred tree of Germany.  Courts were set up under the tree and decisions were made there.  Everyone was particularly interested in the backlit leaves of the first ironwood tree.  One little girl kept saying "I like it here."  My groups continue to be small because of cold and rainy weather and then high water on the following sunny days!   


Expedition #16 - April 30, 2000 - afternoon

        Several wafters didn't show up but it was a beautiful sunny afternoon but still high water.  I took out three, two interesting countrified brothers and Monica Geary a former Arabic student of mine at Duke.  It was a challenge to meet the guys on their level of catching bass and catfish.  One of them had his own Sevelor waft that he took out on lakes.  We dragged the boats up to the Synott Hole, over the rock and shot the rapid.  We were out two and a half hours. Afterwards, Monica and I took a boat up to Guess Road and came downstream.  We talked about Ayahuasca camp but she was turned off with the idea of purging.

        To me work is shifting my natural presentation to communicate on the terms of others who might have a different set of values or interests other than mine.  Also having to be animated to make up for missing aspects of the moment like the problem of high water or my disappointment with a small turn out, gloomy weather or uncomfortable closeness with strangers in a small group. Work is the extra effort needed to be a leader or a communicator.  


Expedition #17 - May 4, 2000 - afternoon

        It was a gorgeous day with the water level finally dropping.  I took a group of fourteen women who worked out of Nortel's Ottawa and Dallas offices.  They weren't the most receptive types to my ideas but were easy to work with.  Comments about snakes and spiders flew freely at first as a rat snake crossed the river in front of us.  The wood duck was still on her nest.  My energy was rock bottom before the expedition.  I really did not like to come out in the afternoon and try to connect with the river. I do better in the morning.  I was paid $300 for this one group and that may have made me apathetic.  But the easy group matched my low energy and the dollars matched my needs as well.


Expedition #18 - May 6, 2000 - morning

        First hot wafting day of 2000 with a group of fifteen.  The water temperature was still low enough to provide a thrill out of a dip.  We all swam in the Synott Hole.  I shared about tropical connections after a call of the Acadian flycatcher, but the focus was clearly on the Synott Hole.  Had a family of five from France.  The young boy who rode with me was Axel, the same name as our outfitter on the Orinoco!  The wood duck hen was still on her eggs. I started the expedition feeling pretty lousy about the loss of my wallet, but on the way I asked the Elm tree to bring it home so I will rest with that.  Lots of families with kids.  I enjoyed watching them swim in the cold water.  I dipped and washed away some anxieties of my own.


Expedition #19 - May 7, 2000 - morning

        A nice group of seven went out this morning under ideal conditions.  A rather nervous and sarcastic woman later turned into a wafting champion as the morning wore on and later told the group she had never experienced anything like this before. Only one person swam in the Synott Hole.  An indigo bunting called long and hard from the top of a dead tree above the elm.  A rat snake crossed the river.  The birds were magnificent in spring song. No cuckoos yet.  Before I went out, "there were wafted to me evidences" of Walden Pond while resting in my hammock.  I was intoxicated with that New England spring vibe.


Expedition #20 - May 7, 2000 - afternoon, 

        Gorgeous afternoon with a group of nine.  No birds compared to the morning chorus but the sundance on the ironwoods was entertaining.  There was a mother with an exploding fourteen year old and a man weighing 275+ who popped the first boat of the season on a submerged log in the black lagoon. I should have expected it based on his restless paddling after the maple tree.  I get promptings that I often don't follow through on.

        We all swam at the Synott Hole.  It was full of Latinos.  In fact, the park had more people of color than whites today, including Arabs!  It is obvious that the third world crowd often goes for the free entertainment that the river offers.  I usually do to although I offer a program I charge for.  A two and a half year old girl did really well in the front of her dad's boat.  She was so content and happy.  There were three generations on the river today in that family.

        I noticed that some of the upper leaves of the elm tree were looking withered. I prayed for the tree and for my upcoming week of shamanic night journeys. I prayed for progress in my vision of how to lead these experiences.  So it was a good day despite low turnout and a punctured boat.


Expedition #21 - May 10, 2000 - morning

        A thunderstorm moved in and dropped a little moisture but a westerly wind pushed it out and we ended with gorgeous skies.  We took the boats up on the Synott Hole.  I had four women from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.  They were quiet and pensive. The weather shift was the main feature of the expedition.  Some wind made paddling upstream difficult.  The mountain laurel was in full boom, hanging down on the rock bank opposite the Sycamore and added a second focus for the group.  Gnats and various kinds of stingless insects were everywhere doing their whirling thing.  It felt very much to be a May day.


Expedition #22 - May 12, 2000 - afternoon

        Took out a family group of five from Barrington, Rhode Island.  They were members of the same church there where I participated in a wedding six years ago.  They said their favorite spot for outdoors meditation was the flat rock at the Norman Bird Sanctuary which I had also previously experienced.  So much of my day's thoughts wafted fondly in that direction but also with a sad heart.  

        We caught a green snake on the water and passed it around.  The Synott Hole was the focus of this hot day.  Looking upstream toward the rapid framed its usual dream.  The mother was wearing a La Selva cap so we had a nice conversation about Costa Rica.  The mountain laurel was still in full bloom but I could not keep my thoughts from wafting all over New England.

        So my plan for tonight's moonlight journey is:

1 - introduction to the night river environment under the maple 

2 - Neuse River Light and Hale-Bop comet story under the sycamore

3 - explain the shamanic journey

4 - journey under the elm tree as our axis mundi

5 - return to the maple to share


Expedition #23 - May 12, 2000 - evening

        The moon was one evening past the first quarter and straight overhead when we started.  I drummed before everyone showed up, pressing my head against the elm tree. There was confusion about who was late arriving and our total number but it came down to twelve wafters.  Amphibians stole the show with more bullfrogs sounding off than I can ever remember.  Banjo frogs and toads called as well.  I did better laying the groundwork for our shamanic journey than I had done in the past but I still need to simplify it.  I shared the story of my Hale-Bop UFO encounter as a prelude under the sycamore tree.  

        I then introduced the shamanic journey in the Black Lagoon.  I mentioned my telepathic experiences but felt that was not really necessary.  It was just too much information.  I forgot to mention the axis mundi concept so I still need to work on that.  I was a little less flustered than before and I'm glad I get to be able to practice on these small groups before the larger ones begin.  I may need some way to time my drumming so that I don't carry on more than fifteen minutes.  I smelled tuna fish off to my right side while I was drumming so someone may have been bored and started snacking!

         This process is like sculpting a beautiful object.  It will eventually take shape with practice and refinement.  I mentioned the macaws before the journey.  I wonder if I could name each of my boats after a different macaw species and then project meaning for whoever choses each boat!  But any name written on the boat would be difficult to read at night.  Somehow I must bring my spirit helpers more openly into the arena.  


Expedition #24 - May 13, 2000 - morning

        On this summer like day I had a group of thirteen that were very attentive.  They were late arriving and in a state of disarray at first but eventually we all settled down.  One German family had two well behaved boys.  A man sat in front of me who was determined not to paddle alone.  He was friendly and interested in what I had to say.  We all went swimming in the Synott Hole which relieved us of the heat immediately with its still chilly waters.  The German mother said that Nordic myths describe the ash tree as the axis mundi.  She said she felt lighter after our meditation under the elm.  A couple from Canada described a trip down the Niagara River that sounded really exciting.  


Expedition # 25 - May 13, 2000 - evening

        Huge thunderheads moved in as we headed out with the moon overhead and lightning flashing every five seconds in the distance.  A pregnant woman and her husband backed out in fear.  I delayed the expedition ten minutes to monitor the storm.  We moved ahead.  Gorgeous huge lightning clouds loomed up in front of us to the north as we passed the sycamore.  I had never seen such a sight on the river.  Still no thunder.  Gray tree frogs called for the first time this season.  It was awesome.  

        We entered the Black lagoon and under the ironwood we first heard the lightning. The winds picked up and lots of energy was in the air.  We voted and all wanted to ride it out.  I explained about the elm tree journey but decided to stay put under the ironwood and so we journeyed there with drum.  I had a distinct impression that I need to move forward in my relationships with the boyfriends of my three daughters. On my journey I faced the three fellows and encouraged them to treat my daughters well.  The storm passed while we waited in the Black Lagoon and we wafted back safely.

        When I told my story about the Neuse River light, a man in the group said I had seen what is known down East as the Trenton or Cove City light.  He had seen it and added that the 82 Airborne Division of Fort Bragg had been sent to investigate it during world War II.  I was excited to hear this.  On only the second night of sharing this story, I ended up with this amazing response!  In my pre-expedition preparation I had meditated on the rock face by the river.  I feel like I received my answer!


Expedition # 26 - May 14, 2000 - morning 

        Beautiful Spring day although it could have been hotter for swimming.  I took out a group of eleven.  The mountain laurel was dropping her floral discs into the river making strings of flower trails heading downstream.  The children collected the flowers along the entire route.  One girl gave me a handful as she stepped out of her boat at the end.  I was touched and released the flowers back to the river again.  I was sleepy so I didn't have much energy to interact with the group.  There were three families with five kids who were all well behaved.  One family was from India and spoke English with the same accent.  He was white and she was dark.  I wanted to get to know them but had little energy for conversation.


Expedition # 27 - May 14, 2000 - afternoon 

        Absolutely gorgeous afternoon expedition with well behaved children and friendly parents.  We picked up an eight inch slider that I passed around for all to see.  We then found the hummingbird sitting on her nest in the Black Lagoon.  But I am sad that the wood duck eggs have disappeared, probably from rat snake predation.  No shells left behind as they were likely swallowed whole by a hungry serpent.  Under the elm I asked the tree to open up a direct line with Josie on the Orinoco River this week. I trust she is there now at Autana and that there will be wafted to me evidences of that far away place where I paddled with her last year.


Expedition # 28 - May 17, 2000 - afternoon 

        Under threats of rain we had nice weather anyway.  Six students were from the Biology 2 class at Hunt High School in Rocky Mount, along with two elderly who wanted to avoid the later DILR crowds.  An osprey piped and flew over us with a fish in his talons.  That was the first sighting this year.  I had forgotten about his annual Spring visitation.  We chased him upstream to the Synott Hole.  The hummingbird was on her nest in the Black Lagoon in a limb about six feet off the water.  It was the best view we had ever had of the nesting bird. The kids were not in an attentive mood but exams were over and it was after school hours.  The elderly couple seemed impressed.  She has a house in Maine and was a paddler knowledgable about the ways of the river. 


Expedition # 29 - May 17, 2000 - evening

        It was the night before the full moon. A storm blew through from 7:00 - 7:30 so I called the Jewish Community Center group to reassure them that all was OK.  I felt empowered and extended as I moved about the boats for a second round of extra inflation as the evening air cooled. Everyone arrived on time in full force of twenty-four souls, introducing ourselves in the basement of the mill.  Wow, what a lot of people!  It was my first full group of the year 2000 wafting season.  

        We were crowded in the Black Lagoon.  The poor mother hummingbird must have been very upset with us.  I was flustered at the size of the group myself but I managed.  Their loud talk and laughing threw me off a bit.  But when it came down to my drumming we were faced with a gorgeous full moon on a misty river night.  It would be easy to slip into an altered state of awareness.  I emphasized the possibility of using the night as a backdrop to explore our inward unconscious realms and how electricity has robbed us of that ancient experience. I mentioned Thoreau's concept of wafting thoughts and let that lead into a journey under the influence of the sacred elm tree to any place they needed to go.  

        I sensed my drumming was powerful and flowing. Everyone calmed down quickly and became focused. I received many thanks and praises when folks got out of their boats.  An interesting woman from UNC Press rode with me for the journey. She had great energy, the best I've had for a passenger in a long time.  


Expedition # 30 - May 17, 2000 - evening

        I took out twenty wafters including seven African Americans on a perfect full moon night.  I sense that my drumming is sending good vibes throughout the community.  I'm getting calls from medicine groups and full moon circles wanting to arrange night expeditions.  It all feels very satisfying. 

        There was more laughing with this group than I prefer so in the future I must remember to make the point of whispering or using muffled voices.  This time I tried giving a ten minute introduction to journeying while standing by the boats before we launched in the water, preparing everyone to think of a personal question they could pose to the elm tree.

        So the five points I made this trip were:

1 - at the mill explain I shares Eno background information and the need to explore the night out of curiosity, adventure and as a backdrop to inner searching; electricity has robbed us of this experience 

2 - identify frog, insect, bird and other night sounds at the maple tree

3 - at the sycamore tree, tell story of the Neuse River light and the possibility of exploring a deeper dimension of Nature

4 - in the Black Lagoon, tell the story of the Kweechur, Thoreau and his wafting ideas and introduce the idea of the sacred tree as axis mundi

5 - the journey under the elm tree; taking a relaxed position with  eyes closed or open, stimulating theta waves of the brain, surfing the energy of the drum for ten to fifteen minutes.

        The mosquitoes were after me while I drummed tonight so I must bring repellant. Do I need an illuminated clock to keep track of my drumming time?  Should I use a song, humming or whistling?  Perhaps I should announce at the beginning that there are four steps or stations on our night journey on the water so folks can better orient themselves. It's shaping up!


Expedition # 31 - May 19, 2000 - evening

        Evening after the full moon. The Raleigh Ski and Outing Club arrived with a full group of twenty four.  I paddled alone.  It did allow me to collect my thoughts better and I feel that what needed to be said about preparation was said so that when we got under the elm tree we were ready to roll.  My only concern is that there is too much talking and too much theory to convey.  I don't want my voice to be the center of attention throughout the evening.  So simplification is a must. Once again we posed questions to the elm tree.  

        The clouds began to thicken as the night wore on.  Lightening flashed in the distance but we never heard it.  The moon was up over the ridge when we arrived at the elm tree and was with us for twenty minutes before the clouds moved in.  So I consider it a lucky night.  One person said when she found the moon under the elm, "This looks like a postcard scene."   One man in the group had seen the Maco Light near Wilmington NC and described his experience for us.  

        My biggest gap is a closing. We  need a song.  I meant to do a song, whistle or hum myself but I forgot, something to unite us after our solo journeys.  One couple giggled and whispered through much of our journey. I became agitated. I must be more direct in encouraging other behavior.  It is a fabulous scene with all the bodies flattened out in the boats in the amazing moonlight and being receptive under the elm tree.  If there is a blessing to be had there we will find it.  Thus concludes my five moonlight wafting expeditions of May.


Expedition # 32 - May 20, 2000 - morning 

        I took a group of nineteen out with kids and all were well behaved.  I came across a six foot rat snake and stopped it in the water with my paddle.  It was amazing how it could just stop perfectly still and stay afloat.  Was she holding in air?  She was a beautiful creature.  As we were under the elm tree just finishing our meditation an osprey flew downstream silently, my second sighting of the year.  I still need a song to conclude our meditation and journey time. I must work on that.  I awoke yesterday morning at home with a song and hummed it for a while and then lost it.  I must make music a part of my shamanic life.


Expedition #33 - May 20, 2000 - afternoon 

        The Durham Friends Meeting youth group came out with Glacia O'rourke and were a restless crowd and a tough bunch to entertain.  They had raised money for a contribution to the Eno River Association.  In the Black Lagoon I got off on the call of the vireo and waxed eloquent with the group.  The red-eyed vireo is a very entertaining animal.  They dipped in the Synott Hole as it heated up in the late afternoon.  I got in as well.  I made my elm prayer for Josie as she is probably in Miami now poised to return home.  It is an odd feeling. Four years ago she left for Venezuela and now she is back. We have grown a lot during this time.  Will she join me here or does she have a more expansive role to play in South America without me?


Expedition #34 - May 22, 2000 - morning 

        It rained hard over night and the river rose high. I debated what to do with my Duke Learning in Retirement group and decided to go forward.  As usual they were all sporty but without Josie watching the stragglers I wouldn't have dared it.  We ended up towing two boats upstream.  We headed for the Black Lagoon and there they bombarded me with questions until I had to break it off to return.  The sun came out strong and it evolved into a lovely day.  Of course the return was facilitated by the fast water flow downstream.  I am amazed how easy this group was to share with.  Their minds were very free with no kids at home and no jobs to go to.  Just free to waft through retirement …


Expedition #35 - May 22, 2000 - afternoon 

        The water began to drop by noon so it was a little easier with my second Duke group.  They were very strong paddlers and made it to the maple tree.  The Duke Learning in Retirement groups seem more cohesive and loyal to one another than they used to be.  They said they were going to call the Herald-Sun Newspaper and demand the return of my column.  Josie shared about her Orinoco wafting experiences.  The vireo almost rocked us to sleep in the Black Lagoon.  The water was too high for us to shoot up to the elm tree.  I think I should bring my safety throw-bag for these high water days.  It was nice to have Josie's help.  A great blue heron was sitting on the old willow by the put-in dock when we returned.  Didn't see much other wildlife except a quick glance at a water snake scurrying along.  I trust the blessing of the elm will be with these folks even though we never made it to her shade today.  Nice cool sunny day.  So glad I proceeded as planned.


Expedition #36 - May 23, 2000 - afternoon 

        The girls science club from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh came for an afternoon expedition.  I was low on energy because of having a molar crowned this morning.  I found the twelve and thirteen years old kids not very attentive.  They were floundering with their paddling as well.  They found a dead dragonfly in the water that they passed around.  I added a bladdernut that I picked from a tree.  That was about all the attention they could muster or handle.  One kid who wanted attention was way out of line.  I was feeling too under the weather to make any corrections.  There was also no inspirational sunshine.  I managed to get through it by downing a twenty ounce coke beforehand.  I hope they got more out of that expedition than I did.


Expedition #37 - May 27, 2000 - morning

        I took out a group of twenty-three on a Memorial Day Saturday. Josie rode with me.  Lots of good kids who were very interested in the river.  Eight Brits and a number of frequent floaters.  I may have sold several boats.  The biggest wind storm I've ever seen on Wednesday knocked down a half dozen big trees on my stretch of the river.  The last river maple went down on the way to the Synott Hole and the big sycamore got trimmed of several large limbs.  A huge downed beech tree now blocks the entrance to the Black Lagoon and probably destroyed the hummingbird nest.  I may be able to have a path cut through but the river now looks ragged again like it did after Hurricane Fran in 1996.  But everyone seemed to have a good time.  The kids were answering my questions.  They shared many positive remarks about the morning as they departed.


Expedition #38 - May 27, 2000 afternoon 

        Rain threatened on the weather channel but it all skirted us and we had gorgeous weather with a group of twenty-one.  I thought it a miracle to get a total of forty-three people out wafting in both groups today. This expedition was really a family affair with lots of children on the river.  I had to do some new stops with the group because of the configuration of downed trees along the river after the big storm.  We all swam up in the Synott Hole but it was still cool with the sun blocked by clouds and the seventy-two degree water.  

        There was one super active five year old named Will who began to drive me.  I told the group the story of Eno-WIll, the eighteenth century Occoneechee Indian leader that I had just read about the day before in Lawson's account. The boy's father had to finally pull him away from the group because he was such a chatter box.  I began to feel that this child might somehow be an energetic reincarnation of Eno-Will.  The timing of my reading about the old Indian and the appearance of this precocious child today on the river was remarkable. We barely made it through the elm tree meditation with his wild energy.  


Expedition # 39 - May 28, 2000 - morning

        A really nice cloudy and misty morning.  Josie and I paddled up the Black Lagoon ahead of time to clear storm debris.  Amazingly, I found live baby hummingbirds in the nest that had survived the week's horrendous wind storm.  The nest was tilted slightly but all appeared safe and well inside.  We had eighteen wafters with lots of kids and we managed to squeeze everyone into the Black Lagoon just fine.  I took my time and waxed eloquent as there was no interest in going to the Synott Hole because of the cool weather.  But I entertained everyone successfully and we made it back as light rain finally caught up with us.  My groups continue to be very family oriented with many well behaved kids. I feel that this is very different than in the past when I was serving mostly the singles crowd.  I feel thankful for getting in a full group with rain on the way.  My execution, timing and working with the weather has been impeccable! 


Expedition #40 - May 29, 2000 Memorial Day - morning

        With rain threatening we took twelve wafters to the Synott Hole and paddled around under severe looking skies.  Rough wing swallows were playing in the rapids and there were a dozen or so flitting about the Synott Hole. It was novel.  More attentive children. I was really lucky to get in my fortieth wafting expedition of the year.  I found two tiny bills sticking out of the hummingbird nest in the Black Lagoon but have not seen the mother since the storm.  The passage under the downed beech tree now actually makes an interesting sort of "portal" into the Black Lagoon.  I must bring offerings to the tree. Perhaps popcorn, or maybe I could buy some feed corn from Barnes Supply. Spring is over and summer will be upon us next week.


Expedition #41 - June 1, 2000 - morning

        I took out a group of fourth graders from Cameron Park Elementary School in Hillsborough at 9AM.  It felt good getting a full price from them after a Hillsborough business offered them a grant to cover my fee.  It is the learning process of evolving towards efficiency that makes this fun.  The children paid little attention to what I said.  But they were excited to find the two baby hummingbirds hanging their heads over the rim of the nest in the Black Lagoon. The birds seemed quite content to have us all around.


Expedition #42 - June 1, 2000 - afternoon

        Second Cameron Park Elementary School group of fourth graders.  I must bring a river offering this weekend.  I got no lunch between groups today.  I think 9:00 to 11:00 and 11:30 - 1:30 works well for school groups when I do two in a row but I must remember to bring something to eat in between.


Expedition #43 - June 3, 2000 - morning  

        A group of nine went out on a muggy morning.  It wasn't a swimming group so I took my time and waxed eloquent.  The hummingbirds are now big and fat and barely able to fit in the nest.  We had a great view of them. Still no cuckoos calling along the river.  Four seniors came who each paddled solo and seemed pleasantly surprised by their experience.  I had to coax them a little at first.  One woman from Scotland mentioned that the oak was the sacred tree of her country.  


Expedition #44 - June 3, 2000 - afternoon  

        Had a group of eighteen with lots of high energy kids but they were very courteous.  One boy with his father kept repeating over and over again, "Dad, this is awesome!"  It got dark as a storm wafted in from the south.  Thunder rumbled.  We tore one boat in the Black Lagoon.  Under the elm tree I wafted blessings and protection to my children in San Francisco. We then had an uninspiring swim in the Synott Hole without any sun.  I felt refreshed though.  

        I fell into a pleasant groove while paddling back alone.  The quality of the air was rarified as I swiftly moved along.  I had towed one senior the entire way in my morning group so it was pleasant not to have any "strings attached."  Is that the way I want my life to be?  I found Mexicans tossing bottles onto the rocks below the dam.  What impact will these immigrants have on this park?  How can I better welcome them?


Expedition # 45 - June 4, 2000 - morning 

        Rain was threatening once again but I managed to make the expedition happen.  I had a Swiss frequent floater family of four who insisted on paying for five. The Europeans are always on time and very appreciative.  It was a quiet cloudy morning.  About all the wildlife we saw was the pair of baby hummingbirds still crammed into the nest.  A spotted sandpiper was preening himself on the dam when we paddled back, the sun having finally coming out.  

        Because they were Swiss, I told them about my trip down the Rhone River from Geneva.  He asked, "What glacier feeds the Eno?"  I thought about that for a while in addition to the Eno's apple orchard source.  I suppose that rivers that begin at high altitudes are thought to be from the gods.  The Swiss family remarked that the elderberry is said to bring good luck if planted by one's house. They also commented that because the European linden is a tree of love, it would not have inspired anyone to go to war as the elm did for George Washington!


Expedition #46 - June 4, 2000 - afternoon 

        A group of fifteen paddled out in cloudy weather accompanied by the pounding music from a rock band playing at the nearby amphitheater, whose vibes poured forth from the woods.  One of my latest tricks for getting the attention of children is to ask them to slide their hands through the green slim on the wet surface of a downed log next to the elm tree.  I then tell them it is turtle poop!  Their spontaneous responses are a delight to watch.  There were some interesting birds calling under the elm too but no one was interested.  Not much sun the past few days and with many trees down in the water from the recent storm, things seem a bit desolate.  In such cases I do lots of entertaining and people seem quite willing to pay just to hear me share about life along the river.


Expedition #47 - June 9, 2000 - afternoon  

       Gorgeous day with an RTP group of nineteen from Intelligent Information Services.  I paddled a PhD graduate from NC State who says burnout is on his horizon.  I gave the group a good lecture on the dangers of computer gazing and they all responded well. There was an Egyptian, Magid, who said he has friends coming from Cairo soon and will bring them wafting.  A couple from India inquired if they purchased a couple of my boats whether I thought they could take them back to India on the plane!  Half of the group went swimming.  An interesting bunch of software developers but I'm so thankful that I don't work in that kind of environment!  But where does my generalized anxiety and impatience still come from?  

        I bought a fifty pound bag of corn from Barnes Supply and began using it today with a hand toss into the river as a gift under the elm. That was the teaching I received from Eno-Will.  I am debating whether to ask everyone to bring their own offerings such as flowers to float or grains.  It would engage them ahead of time.  I feel like this would be a major step forward.  I must fast tomorrow evening before moonlight wafting. This all must be taken seriously if baraka is to flow freely here.  Can I manage this shamanic work single handed or do I need a partner?  Will it take a full season or many seasons to see results?  Perhaps we can plan an elm tree ceremony at the next Eno Festival.  A king snake swam across the river after we were under the elm tree today.  I asked the forking elm tree to help me with the choices I need to make in the coming days.    


Expedition #48 - June 9, 2000 - evening 

        I took out a cub scout group and their parents from Soapstone Methodist Church plus three others under the first quarter moon. I used my preparation time to focus intention on the three sets of participants tonight and to call on my macaw spirit helpers. I was also fasting for the first time.  I have unresolved issues around this fasting lingering from my fasting days in Jerusalem.  Dr. Pizzino pointed that out to me last week and I've talked it through with my mentor in Bolivia. I must work on this.

        It was a gorgeous night with the moon straight overhead and a river of singing frogs.  Beavers were slapping their tails on the water surface.  We tore a boat in the Black Lagoon.  I've got to clear it out again soon!  But under the elm tree the kids did well with their journeys.  Several went back to previous bad dreams with monsters and fought and overcame them.  One claimed he went skateboarding on the rings of Saturn!  Another took his mom's job at the zoo.  One parent said he was determined to play skeptic but was soon "pulled under" after first resisting the drum beat.  It was my best set of super positive feedback from night journeys.  In my journey I ascended the elm tree and cast down stardust on the heads of the wafters gathered below in their boats to empower them on their ways.


Expedition #49 - June 10, 2000 - morning 

     Running together a string of super nice days.  Took seven folks on a quiet morning expedition.  They were very responsive.  One was a 1973 Northern High School graduate who recalled old times on the river.  She displayed positive facial expressions to everything I shared, almost to a point of distraction.  The indigo bunting is very much part of our experience as we first head out, calling loud and strong as we approach the maple. Swarms of tiny minnows were schooling under the ironwood in the Black Lagoon. A king snake swam across the river just in front of the elm tree, under which I wafted blessings to all in need this morning.  Everyone swam in the Synott Hole. I was quite exhilarated by the entire morning's ambiance.    


Expedition #50 - June 10, 2000 - afternoon 

        I had a group of seventeen, including some frequent floaters in whose eyes I seemed to be held in quite high esteem.  I was embarrassed that I did not first recognize them.  Lots of heavy people were along.  Perhaps the idea of a laid back outdoors experience is attracting them to wafting.  A kingfisher flew back and forth on the river in both directions.  At the Synott Hole I swam over and basked atop the big rock that was fully heated up from the sun. Everyone was happy playing in the rapids.  It was perfect weather.  It looked like an advertisement for a spa.  The vireos and many other birds called all afternoon and are still calling now at 8pm!


Expedition #51 - June 10, 2000 - evening 

        It was a clear moonlit night. To prepare I sat underneath the beech tree for a second night in a row.  I noticed a vine twining on a dead branch of an ironwood in the millrace.  For some reason this caught my attention and I gazed fixedly upon the vine for a long time. I rode alone with a group of sixteen, a nice size bunch.  The group was a thirties to forties crowd and very quiet.  There was lots of frog and beaver activity.  The call of a raspy voiced bird sounded upstream from the elm for a second night in a row.  My guess is that it's a juvenile owl.  My four presentations turned out very well.  I am always very clever thinking when I am alone in my boat.  

        I invited everyone to ascend or descend the elm tree.  Instead, I could invite everyone to pose a question to the elm or encourage them to visualize an image so as not to just wander off in space.  But my big jump tonight was to sing for the group as I finally let some "eewahs" out for a couple of minutes.  In my own journey I ascended the elm and sent macaws to snatch away everyone away on their separate travels.  I also scattered stardust from above.  Then I visualized blowing my pipe smoke in the directions of those I could think of who might need extra help.  Afterwards, the only response shared from the group was that the philosophy teacher said he had a vision of himself cutting his long hair when under the elm tree. 


Expedition #52  June 11, 2000 - morning  

        Beautiful weekend with a group of thirteen, including a number of frequent floaters.  Three women from New York City came who called the Durham Chamber of Commerce and were given my number.  One family brought a fussy four year old who was finally appeased by holding a carnation dropped in the water last night by a wafter under the elm tree.  Wow!  It was special to find the flowers on the water around the tree this morning.  Many of the group last night lingered there for a long time after I left.  The flower was the only familiar thing to the little girl who was otherwise out of touch with her normal world. The tree was generous to give back.  Otherwise there would not have been a group meditation today because of that one upset child!


Expedition #53 - June 11, 2000 - afternoon 

        I took out four people from Gainesville, Florida, including a professor who reminded me of my father.  It was a slow afternoon and I was tired and not very animated.  The wife seemed to get into the wafting mood after initially being apprehensive.  The husband lingered last along the way, wouldn't swim but was watchful.  Their daughter and her husband were quiet.  This was an odd family unit.  Somehow I felt it all had an impact on them and that they would always remember the Eno River.  I worked really hard to remain focused in the moment as I worked through this year's two thousand wafters. It

was a discipline at first but then it flowed ...


Expedition #54 - June 15, 2000 - afternoon 

        Took seven folks out, including one hyperactive kid but he was not obnoxious.  I saw what looked like kingbirds diving on the water surface but was unsure.  The kid was so restless that I couldn't get a close look.  After clearing out the sticks in the Black Lagoon this week paddling was much easier there.  But the large fallen beech tree actually makes a nice gateway to the area and will be around for many years to come.  A woman from Sweden was in the group. She agreed that the ash tree was the cosmic tree of Scandinavia.  I enjoyed my few minutes basking on the Synott Hole rock.  The mimosas are blooming quite beautifully as is the willow grass.  


Expedition #55 - June 15, 2000  - evening

          I had a big family group of eleven that was celebrating a birthday at the park. They had two boys that were mentally challenged.  I invited them into my office for their dinner as it threatened to rain.  We decided to proceed with wafting, based on the weather service statement that the front had passed through by 8:45PM. Once on the water I could soon tell by my observations that it had not.  Half an hour into the trip we were headed back to the dock in sprinkling rain and wind. Later there was light rain but no downpour.  

        After the aborted river trip I brought everyone back to my office again to do a seated shamanic journey.   We lit my oil lamp and formed a circle.  I drummed, sang my two new songs and blew tobacco and damiana leaf on each person from behind.  I was anticipating a cautionary reaction from some but it all flowed very well.  Even the challenged boys quieted down.  I very much enjoyed my role as leader and felt encouraged by the experience.  The rain helped blot out the noise on Roxboro Street.  I shared my Neuse River light story.  A couple of the men told of the peace they experienced following my drumming but nobody shared their journey with the group.  I will have to work on coaxing that out of folks.


Expedition #56 - June 16, 2000 - evening 

        It was a warm night that started clear but then clouded up somewhat.  The Raleigh Ski and Outing Club sported twenty-three people.  I am more amazed than ever how heavy folks are becoming. I felt a low spirit tonight with not much openness.  I couldn't get my song in tune.  The moon came out between gaps in the clouds but it just didn't seem to offer us a magical moment.  I need to briefly massage my face before I begin drumming in order to iron out the itchy spots and twitches that I can't give attention to while drumming.  We heard very young owls begging tonight. It was an unsettling sound.


Expedition #57 - June 17, 2000 - morning

         I took out a group of twenty-six girl scouts and parents, most of whom were frequent floaters.   The little girl Charlotte was extremely content outdoors.  We spent the majority of our time in the Synott Hole.  The kids enjoyed catching baby toads.  I started the morning very inspired but somehow lost it as the morning progressed with this group.


Expedition #58 - June 17, afternoon 

        I took a Research Triangle Institute group of eighteen, plus friend Sandra Neustel with her young son Graham and four of their friends.  Like the morning group we were late getting started and I lost some focus trying to get everyone signed up and in place.  Graham was fussy and the attention I had to give him and Sandra took away from my teaching focus with the RTI group.  But the Synott Hole saved the day and all turned out well.  

        One small puncture caused one boat to deflate.  I paddled Sandra and Graham back to give her a break.  Even though the temperature was in the nineties the water still felt cool.  I felt a bit like a machine churning out wafters. But the weather is good and all indicators seem to say go.  I got off on the song of the red-eyed vireo with the group in the Black Lagoon and gave them the computer screen warning as I do with all techies.  I feel like it has been a scrambled day so far.  


Expedition #59 - june 17, 2000 - evening

        The Unity Church of Raleigh had a woman's full moon circle out, plus a few others including the News and Observer's Joe Miller and friend Alice Hall.  I got distracted early on with one elderly woman who could not paddle.  But she finally figured it out and we were on our way.  My drumming sounded pretty good but I couldn't get anyone to share their experience afterwards.  And I could not establish the pitch of my song correctly and forgot to mention the offerings we brought.  

        After drumming I had everyone move downstream and reassemble at the duck box. That seemed to reenergize the group and allowed for some more questions.  We were out two and a half hours at that point.  I also had started to lose my voice from hollering at boats detached from our group.  I must insure that they know to stay together as part of my original instructions.  Also as usual it was a distraction to have someone ride in my boat with me.  The moon came out beautiful and full and several people hugged me afterwards.  Joe probably got a good taste of the moonlight wafting experience although it would have been better for this reporter to hear more responses.


Expedition #60 - June 18, 2000 - morning

        Twenty five wafters showed up on a mild summer morning.  This included one Native American who was part of a motley group of three from Rocky Mount, including an African American named "Moses" and a young blond woman.  There were frequent floaters and well behaved children. Despite its diversity, the group bonded quite well.  I elaborated again on the call of the red-eyed vireo.  A teenage girl rode in my boat and paddled me all the way back from the Synott Hole. I received the largest tip ever of $10.


Expedition #61 - June 19, 2000 - morning

        A group from the Cary YMCA began in a thunderstorm.  As the last boat pushed off it started to rain.  By the time we were under the maple tree it was pouring.  I had fourteen middle schoolers, especially girls, afraid and squealing from lightning, snakes and spiders.  After an hour we abandoned the expedition and paddled back in drenching rain and lightening.  One boy commented that he was glad his mother didn't have any girls. They were about the craziest bunch of kids I've ever tried to work with.  I charged the YMCA full fare for the morning.


Expedition #62 - June 23, 2000 - morning

        Another YMCA group arrived for wafting but the weather was quite nice this time.  But lots of mud on the banks from the previous day of rain and high water made getting into the boats a difficult mess.  Two of the freaked out girls from the previous group returned.  They had to pee once they got into their boat and they simply couldn't paddle. Their counselor took them away and we had a more stable group for the morning.


Expedition #63 - June 23, 2000 - afternoon

         A third YMCA group showed up and things finally began to click.  After our muddy bank entry there was lots of mud in the boats but the kids handled it better.  Cicadas were calling along the river for the first time this season and are a most welcome song.  We noted that an acadian flycatcher's nest is now one foot away from the hummingbird nest in the Black Lagoon. We watched a water snake slowly cross the river under the sycamore tree. I had been dreading this day of three youth groups but it actually turned out better than I expected.  The kids were even singing sweetly as we paddled back!


Expedition #64 - June 24, 2000 - morning

        I had a group of twenty one mostly quiet adults which is not the usual pattern.  Wow, without children it feels so much more low key.  No one wanted to swim which was unusual.  The water is still muddy from all the recent rain.  I heard the first cuckoo of the season calling in the distance.  They certainly have been scarce this year.  I toss corn under the elm tree regularly now and with it I wafted help for my distant children this morning. I still am reeling from the discovery of the largest elm tree I've ever seen located by the creek behind my grandmother Owen's old house near Columbus NC. So this means that my connection to this tree is long standing and powerful.  I suppose I feel the influence of trees in my life the way others feel the influence of planets and stars. What a fabulous discovery this is!


Expedition # 65 - June 24, 2000 - afternoon

        It was a nice group of sixteen mellow wafters with some frequent floaters included.  There were lots of basking turtles out on the logs warming up as the water temperature had dropped to 79 degrees after all the rain this week.  Everyone wanted to swim at the Synott Hole so we lingered there awhile.  Several women  were quite excited about it and said it reminded them of their hometown water hole growing up in Tennessee.

        It was a lazy afternoon on the river.  Birds continued to sing quite well.  One wafter of German descent described how he made elderberry champagne by pouring a gallon of boiling water over a dozen flower heads with sugar, lemon juice and vinegar. It then ferments in four to five days with carbonation. I must try it next year.  What I offer to get folks outdoors is good ... 


Expedition #66  - June 25, 2000 - morning 

        I had a group of five with some frequent floaters.  They were all very receptive and appreciative, including the assistant mayor of Cleveland.  My words seemed few and simple.  The river spoke for herself.  I noticed that the mayor was really into the elm tree meditation.  I asked the elm tree for help with my children and for friends with children.  Hearing and identifying a gray tree frog was a revelation to one woman who had been hearing it for ages but not knowing what it was.  The Acadian flycatcher sat above us in the elm tree and put on quite a show. I went and baked on the Synott hole rock. That spot is very special.  


Expedition #67 - June 25, 2000 - afternoon

        Gerald Pottern and Laura Snook were with me on this expedition. I felt good in their company.  I hadn't seen Laura since January. Once again I waxed eloquent with the vireo but also the Acadian flycatcher was calling under the elm tree.  The entire group went swimming.  Leroy was with his grandsons making for a very nice flotilla.  A graduate student in environmental studies said she got a group to hike the Eno last year but the naturalist in the state park left much to be desired.  She said she wants me to lead a group of her friends. I rushed down the final stretch to finish with this group so I could get to the airport on time to pick up my parents, but it turns out their flight was delayed.  I chilled in my office hammock while waiting.


Expedition #68 - June 29, 2000 - afternoon

        I took out twelve administrators from Southern Assisted Living on a perfect day.  There was a realization for the first time that the red-eyed vireo is the trance bird, the shamanic bird, the mesmerizer of the forest and the journey bird.  But where are the cuckoos this year?  One of the large river birches was down in the water past the elm tree.  It is a ragged river's edge up there now.  No one swam.   I wondered about leading journeying during the Eno Festival, either in my office, back in the woods or in the evening after the bands turn off.  By next summer I may be confident enough to lead such an experience.


Expedition #69 - July 5, 2000 - morning

        I just barely got the boats ready in time for this group.  My mind was spinning from the events of the weekend and lack of sleep last night.  I had to pull myself together for this group.  But they were a friendly crowd. A group of twenty-five showed up for wafting, two thirds being restless kids.  None were really bad, but they were definitely looking for more action than wafting is capable of normally offering.  The Synott Hole was their only goal.   

        The elderberry is called "ellerberry" in Michigan according to one wafter today.  She layers her ellerberry pies with apple.  That was my lesson for the morning.  I should ask people more often for their thoughts so I can learn from them too.  I can't be always acting the role of a teacher on the river.


Expedition #70, 71, 72 - July 6, 2000 - morning, noon, afternoon

        I took three Duke Action Camps out today with only a half hour break between them which was just enough time to wipe out the wafts and line them up for the next group.  Sixty two girls piled into boats over six hours for which I was paid $744.  All we managed to do was paddle up into the Black lagoon and back.  The damselflies were thick and one girl was in tears in fear of them.  There was not much wildlife to behold today except insects so I made them our focus. Also my latest pun with the kids over rising river bubbles is "fawting fishes."  While we were having our silent listening time in the Black Lagoon a large tree creaked.  That proved to be the most significant event of the day for me.  I like it when trees talk ... 


Expedition #73 - July 7, 2000 - morning

        I took twenty-two South Africans teens out on a rainy morning.  Michael Battle who stayed with me in Jerusalem fifteen years before was their leader.  He and their local priest were ordained by Bishop Desmond Tutu and the group came to me with a letter of introduction from him.  The kids were from a small fishing village of coloreds two hours outside of Capetown.  Michael said he would be in touch with me about other groups.  He currently teaches at Duke Divinity School.  Wow, such global connections!  We waited an hour in my office for the precipitation to ease up and finally headed out around 11AM.  

        The kids were afraid of snakes and gators but finally calmed down and paddled quite well. I took the biggest wafter ever, a guy three hundred pounds in weight.  He paddled by himself and managed to avoid a puncture. In my boat I took a woman my age named Grace.  The kids were quiet under the elm tree. Their priest said that the baobab tree was the symbol of their national bank.  They did well in the Synott Hole rapid.  It was quite a sight.  A garter snake crossed our path while we paddled back.  As I am writing a rat snake just crawled up the steps into my office.  I picked it up and tried to get it into a burlap bag but it escaped under my car.  A good omen I trust.  


Expedition #74 - July 8, 2000 - morning

        On my daughter Melody's and Chris's wedding day I took a group of twenty-five family and friends out on the Eno River, including Uncle Gene Zimmerman who led the wedding ceremony, Sarah, Saliima, Yasmiin, Kay and her children, Chris's mother and a number of Chris and Melody's friends.  It was perfect weather and water, a tad higher than normal which made it nice, not algae loaded or scummy and a fun rapid at the Synott Hole.  We paused under the maple, sycamore and the elm trees but bypassed the Black Lagoon.  I found two nice red-shouldered hawk feathers floating in the river that I presented to Melody and Chris.  Under the elm tree we all sent energies and prayers to the newlyweds, sang "Sacred Elm Tree, keep them, keep them," tossed corn on the couple and immediately a cuckoo called, a flycatcher tweeted above followed by the calls of a cardinal, wren and woodpecker.  I paddled Melody's friend Hisham as he photographed the wedding expedition. A super fun time!

Expedition #75 - July 11, 2000 - evening

        Aldersgate Methodist Church middle and high schoolers showed up for moonlight wafting.  It was a noisy, exited bunch from the moment they walked out to the boats.  I tried very hard to maintain my poise the entire time, first by doing lots of prayers before they arrived!  It is difficult to gauge what impact the experience had on them as there were no verbal responses afterwards from the kids.  

        Two of the leaders who were mothers were very excited and one commented that she felt herself rise up to the elm and found her life's concerns prioritized there for her to receive.  The other leader who rode with me said she found herself "spinning," whatever that means.  I encouraged her to pick up where she left off when she goes to bed tonight.  I still think my instructions are too verbose. Perhaps journeying to other dimensions is just too complicated for such a short space of time.  Rising, sinking, spinning and images appearing are more likely sensations one might have in our context.      


Expedition #76 - July 12, 2000 - evening

        I took out a wedding party reunion of seven.  Again, I sensed all my instructions on journeying were too complicated.  But they were a sweet group.  Someone brought votive candles to float on rice cakes down the river.  The couple exchanged rose pedals and sent them down the river too.  I had a vision of the two as binary stars as I searched in Nature for such a relationship.  We were out on the water from 9PM till 1AM!  It seemed very special for that family. 


Expedition #77 - July 13, 2000 - evening

        Rain threatened but never arrived. After I lined up the boats I blew tobacco on each one and attempted to "see" which one would carry Saliima and Josie. They walked right up to the boat I had "seen."  It was an easy group, fairly quiet with not much response.  "Awesome" was the only adjective I heard from one person.  The mysterious peeping sound continued for a third night in a row.  I suggested it was a fawn.  The moon revealed herself several times from behind the clouds but was not much of a show.  From atop the elm tree I breathed down on everyone and sent down star dust.  It was intense for me but with not much feedback from the group.


Expedition #78 - July 14, 2000 - evening

        It was a clear moonlit night to the east but clouds and lightning in the distant north silently flashed the entire time we were out.  The length of my outings is easily two and a half hours with either the shamanic journey by night or the Synott hole swim by day.  Forget the two hour scenario!  I had a nice group of twenty-two with Adrienne Knowles riding with me.  She hadn't been out in a couple of years. I am forgetting to make the gift of grain to the elm tree until my drumming is over.  I must reverse the order.  From atop the elm tree I blew down on each boat.  Then a spirit being came and offered me a bowl of star dust which I scattered down on each boat individually.  That was about the extent of my journey.  I have no idea how long it lasted.


Expedition #79 - July 15, 2000 - morning

        A cool dry breeze made it feel like fall.  I took out a family group of twenty-four from University Presbyterian Church.  They were very easy to work with.  A garter snake crossed the river in front of us.  A green heron zigzagged back and forth.  Under the elm tree a flycatcher called.  It occurred to me for the first time that the species of bird calling or nesting above us might have significance.  I pondered this morning if a book about the sacred elm might be a useful undertaking.  


Expedition #80 - July 15, 2000 - afternoon

        Had a full group of twenty-five including some Duke Talent Identification Program kids.  The university is really sending me the business.  It was a very cross sectional group with all generations present and from all over the country.  A couple of very precocious kids were along which was great.  They climbed up the ironwood tree in the lagoon while I talked.  I am always lower with my energy in the afternoon so I tend to push everyone to the Synott Hole as soon as possible. The group seemed to be content.  

        A woman who had been on the moonlight trip a couple of nights before told me that her friend who had been with her dreamed that night that she danced all over the heavens and that it was a sign that she would soon be pregnant. Perhaps fertility may very well be a concern for a lot of wafters.  I'm glad to be made aware of that.  I feel this work is a unique contribution to the Eno movement. I've evolved this event into a pilgrimage experience with five stations at the maple, the black lagoon, the sycamore, the elm and the Synott Hole ...


Expedition # 81 - July 15, 2000 - evening

        I took out twenty-five from the Unity Church in Raleigh plus one walk-on who sat with me named Hillary.  It was a gorgeous moon with dramatic clouds as well.  I did my best to set the stage.  One person shared after drumming but we could barely hear it.  I'm coming close to giving up on asking for feedback.  If that group of Unity folks can't provide it, then who can?  Perhaps I should ask for anonymous feedback on my answering machine.  

        I am regularly having this distinct impression of a spirit being descending from the moon with a pouch of star dust, and now gold dust as well, for me to sprinkle over the wafters.  The star dust is an opener and the gold dust contains treasures.  So in my own journey when I'm drumming I am busy scattering this celestial material as well as breathing on everyone.


Expedition #82 - July 16, 2000 - morning

        Lots of folks from out of town with many from Florida.  Several water snakes crossed the river.  This group lingered forever.  The Acadian flycatcher squeaked in the elm tree.  It was a nice group who caught on quickly to the art of slowing down.


Expedition #83 - July 16, 2000 - afternoon

        Many wafters this week are people passing through Durham from out of town. Lots of children were present in a group of twenty-two.  Clara from the Dominican Republic rode with me. Her accent was the same as the Spanish teacher at my Duke continuing education class. I invited her to join our Amazonian medicine camp this fall but she now says she will be on a trip to the Holy Land instead.  She asked me why I had such a spiritual emphasis.   The day started out cloudy but ended up sunny at the Synott Hole.  No new inspirations, I'm just earning a living in a pleasant way. It will probably be my record week of wafters on the Eno River this year.  No shows mount up that have already paid so I simply add walk-ons. 


Expedition # 84 - July 16, 2000 - evening

      This was a big family group of twenty-five who are members of a swim club.  I was so exhausted that I could barely prepare for this one as it came at the end of a string of six moonlight wafting trips in a row.  I decided to lead the group in power animal recovery and it turned out well.  The idea came to me in a flash under the ironwood tree while talking about how our wild side needs to roam and that it can shapeshift into an animal that moves about at night.  

        It worked.  About a half dozen kids told of adventures as fish, snake, fox and various birds and the woman in front of me said she turned into an otter.  I became a macaw and afterwards shared with them my call.  I am excited about this experiment, one I had first thought of trying even before this wafting season began.  It was a clear moonlit night and the river scene was fabulous.  Clouds rolled through at 11:30 and brought rain.  I was very fortunate with this month's series of moonlight journeys and a total of twenty this season so far!


Expedition #85 - July 17, 2000 - morning

        I took out a group of twenty-four nice folks, mostly children, on a cloudy day.  It began to rain at the Synott Hole but we swam anyway.  It felt pleasant and warm.  Had a number of African Americans who added a lot to the group. It was one woman's birthday and she brought out a group of nine.  I let her toss the corn in the river under the elm tree.  I had a real sweet child ride with me.  I was more concerned about the rain than the group was, but as we paddled back the ambiance was quite pleasant.  No wind so far today.  My afternoon group is requiring a lot of attention in preparation.  But based on weather forecasts I will try to go forward.   


Expedition # 86 - July 22, 2000 - afternoon

        We wafted with a group of eighteen from St. Luke's Episcopal Church under the threat of rain.  It sprinkled on and off several times but I was able to entertain everyone under the canopies of the elm, ironwood, sycamore and birch trees!  The cooler temperature actually made it more inviting.  The first big call of a yellow-billed cuckoo this season on the river boldly sounded off and made me quite cheerful.  The energy of the storm finally abated and a peaceful calm prevailed over the river.


Expedition #87 - July 29, 2000 - morning

        Took out a group of twenty on a beautiful morning.  It was the first expedition since the flood on Monday.  When we turned the corner into the Black Lagoon and found the mess of debris I became disoriented.  But the Synott Hole helped me find my focus.   There was a Wycliff Bible translation family that had three girls who remembered me and my three girls from Blacknall Presbyterian Church and some Filipinos who were very interesting.  I thought they were Chinese at first and I embarrassed them with a comment to that effect.  Basking turtles and darting dragonflies were the wildlife focus for the day.  The river is beginning to take on that slow and lazy August ambiance. 


Expedition #88 - July 29, 2000 - afternoon

        Had a group of sixteen with a number of seniors.  The sky turned very dark and thundered but no rain let loose.  Eventually the sun came out.  We came upon a muskrat and a northern water snake.  A man from New York sat in front of me and was very appreciative of his experience, saying it was like "something from the movies" and "very spiritual."  I began to feel physically run down after a while.


Expedition #89 - July 30, 2000 - morning

        It was a gorgeous morning but with almost no birds except for one cuckoo who flew across the river. The water temperature cooled to 78 degrees after lots of rain on Monday. The Black Lagoon is still a tangle of debris and needs cleaning before I take another group in there.  It was a pleasant group of twelve today with seven middle schoolers who were able to paddle their own individual boats.  I paddled with a mother who had a severe allergy and both of her children had it too. I shared my allergy eradication story about dunking in cold river water and the kids seemed to enjoy the river immensely.  


Expedition # 90 - July 30, 2000 - afternoon

        Rain threatened but it cleared up.  Finally I got to lead a wafting expedition in Arabic!  I took out a group of seven of Ana Slifka's guests who were all Tunisian Arabic speakers.  I had to share in Arabic as the father, Hassan, did not know English.  He mentioned that the Atlas Cedar was the sacred tree of his country!  He and the children backed away from the elm tree as we meditated.  I wasn't sure what was happening there but the daughter was sprawled wide armed and seemed to be taking it in well. I emphasized to the group in Arabic that man must remain wild (yatawahhish). We had a good swim in seventy-eight degree water.  Not much wildlife except for the appearance of a few turtles and dragonflies.   We munched on elderberries that were coming into full ripeness along the riverbanks.  Together with the unexpected flow of Arabic language, the elderberries were the wildest item on the Eno River that afternoon.  


Expedition #91 - August 5, 2000 - morning

        This was a Sierra Club group with lots of seniors.  They asked many very stimulating questions. The river level was up a little from recent rains.  The air carried a typical August silence as many birds are now molting and done with singing displays. It was hot and humid so we did not enter the lagoon but aimed straight for the Synott Hole to get in the water.


Expedition #92  - August 5, 2000 - afternoon

        I had a big group of twenty-four.  Eating elderberries was a significant event for most of them.  I also discussed the hickory, walnut and beech nuts found on branches overhanging the river.  The woman who rode with me was a regular swimmer in Walden Pond as she lives in Boston, but she had never read any of Thoreau's books.  Somehow I think this expedition was very significant for her.  She was originally from Durham and graduated from Northern High School.  


Expedition #93 - August 6, 2000 - morning

          It was overcast but very warm and humid. No fall feeling in the air yet.  The llamas walked through the park as my group arrived and we briefly petted them. I was very slow to get going this morning but my energy wafted in as I saw this was an easy group.  Lucile joined me for the first time since returning from South America.  She is a very gracious helper and good with people.  There were two adopted children from South America in one family who did quite well.  They looked very Indian and reminded me of Josie's Beito.  We saw many painted turtles including one I caught and passed around.  A cuckoo called as we approached the elm tree.  One man wearing a Thoreau t-shirt said he is going to purchase a boat from me.  We had a refreshing dip in the Synott Hole with seventy-eight degree water.  These were very receptive people.


Expedition #94 - August 6, 2000 - afternoon

         I blew away a fifty percent chance of storms and we had a beautiful sunny afternoon.  What evolved was quite remarkable.  Clara Tavarez and family crowd arrived late and disorganized and we didn't depart until 4:30!  But it turned out to be a good group of twenty-two and the Synott Hole was simply delicious with cool water.  My year 2000 wafting season moves along slowly and deliberately.  I will be ready for my moonlight wafting series in a few days but may have to deal with tropical storm Alberto that is heading this way.  A small boy in the front of my boat paddled me all the way back.  I enjoyed the break.  


Expedition #95 - August 10, 2000 - evening

        It was a gorgeous, clear night with the water temperature at eighty-four degrees. The air was superb.  I dipped in the river both before and after leading my group of fifteen. While standing in the water below the dam waiting for the group to arrive, I smoked a Maria Lionza cigar I brought from Venezuela.  During our float several beavers slapped the surface.  I felt that my drumming sounded dull but I tried something new.  In my visualization from the top of the elm tree, I reached down and picked up one of the wafters and took him to a sacred tree with healing leaves.  Also I went searching for a missing cat that one of the wafters had mentioned to me about.  The mystery bird piped just upstream during my drumming. I'm wondering if it might be a night heron ... 


Expedition #96 - August 11, 2000 - evening

        It was a hazy night.  I took out a group of twenty-three AT&T employees.  I was alone in my boat and much more focused than when I have someone with me.  I wish I could announce that folks could post a response on a website.  Feedback is important for this pioneering activity.  Leading a shamanic journey is much more work than my previous moonlight wafting format. I am perfecting my four steps but I wish that I did not have to talk so much.  If only I could just lead them up to the elm tree and then simply say "go to it" with minimal instructions!  


Expedition #97 - August 12, 2000 - morning

        I had a nice group of nineteen on what had to be the most perfect day of late summer wafting.  A cuckoo called from up close in the black Lagoon which inspired me to be very free in my sharing.  One mentally challenged boy was along and behaved quite well.


Expedition #98 - August 12, 2000 - afternoon

        A youth group from Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church in Cary showed up.  One girl kept nagging me with how much more "nature" we were going to do and I eventually had to ignore her.  The daughter of the organizer was also rebelling for the same reason.  They were a restless group but found their stride in the Synott Hole.  I let them play while I basked atop the big rock. Such a wonderful spot!


Expedition #99 - August 12, 2000 - evening

        The Unity Church in Raleigh came for their usual shamanic night journey.  It threatened rain right up to the time we finally started.  Eight people didn't show up, probably refusing to drive to Durham at night in what looked to them like an aborted mission.  That was fine with me as they had all paid in advance.  While we were under the elm tree the sky cleared completely and we had a beautiful time!  I'm not certain that my encouragement to find power animals translated into results, but they sure got a fabulous moonlight trip.  I went dipping in the river afterwards and swam way out in the moonlit waters. 


Expedition # 100 - August 13, 2000 - morning

        It rained right up till our 10AM wafting departure but I managed to keep most of my group for a nice misty, then sunny group of nineteen.  I was upset most of the morning as I thought that I had lost my wallet, only to find it in my file cabinet when I returned. What an incredibly great relief!  Whew!  We heard cuckoos and observed turtles but it was a bit too cool for swimming,  They were nice people though with many out-of-towners.


Expedition #101 - August 13, 2000 - afternoon

        I held off storms by blowing at them and then I took out Sarah Burdock's large Opare Care group of young international women.  Many did not speak English well, so we first paddled ahead to the Synott Hole and had a good swim.  On the way back I crowded them under the elm tree, then under the ironwood tree in the Black Lagoon and encouraged them to discover the natural world while in America. I explained the difference between the old world cuckoo and the new world cuckoo and they seemed to catch on.


Expedition #102 - August 13, 2000 - evening

        Nice group of twenty-four on a cloudy to clear evening.  We were out for two hours and forty minutes!  I didn't do a very good job leading everyone up the Black Lagoon as some got tangled in the fallen beech tree.  At the elm tree I "snatched up" a couple of teenage boys to the moon to show them the contrast between the moon's void and the earth's softness and took Lucile to Venus to show her the planet's toxicity as compared to the earth's sweetness. Afterwards I told her about all my journeying while drumming for the group and she was amazed.  She said I drummed for twenty-five minutes!  

        I have been pondering it myself and am suddenly also surprised at my new found skills.  I have done this snatching of individuals for two nights in a row now.  I was finally well prepared last night.  Watching and meditating on the aerial acrobatics of swifts and dragonflies at dusk is an important part of my preparation. They are truly creatures of the crack between the worlds. I ordered my hummingbird field guide today.  I am feeling good about my expeditions this summer.


Expedition #103 - August 14, 2000 - evening

        Nice full moon on a cloudless night.  We had three children in our group of twenty-three tonight.  The boy was very precocious.  I took him in my boat and journeyed with him and my macaws when I drummed.  Josie brought out Alvis for a picnic at twilight ahead of the expedition.  It was as beautiful a night as they come and I am very grateful for the experience.  The unknown wild animal call sounded like "help" when we left the elm tree. I am totally mystified by this sound.


Expedition #104 - August 15, 2000 - evening

        It was a great night with a perfect view of the moon from under the elm tree.  It was a wonderful group of cooperative people as well.  It is amazing how the drum sounds different each night.  I especially like it when it has a full bass effect.  As a macaw, I snatched a large man up from the group and took him to a circle of stones at Occoneechee Mountain. I told the group ahead of time that I was going to snatch one or two of them away on journeys but I wouldn't say who it was going to be.  I still need specific feedback, not just "It was a great trip."


Expedition #105 - August 19, 2000 - morning

        It was a gorgeous day with sixteen people.  A green heron was out and about.  It made me wonder if this was my mystery night caller.  The water was nice and clear in its late summer usual manner.


Expedition #106 - August 19, 2000 - afternoon

        One heavy solo mother gored a boat completely through for the first time in a quite awhile.  I got carried away talking about wildness under the ironwoods.  I swam in the Synott Hole and then lay on the big rock in full sun.  A huge black cloud soon blocked the sun and its rays shot out in all directions.  Then the sun came out again and gave quite a show. I thanked the sun for the gift of all these wild energies.   


Expedition #107 - August 22, 2000 - afternoon     

        It was perfect weather with a water temperature of seventy-five.  We had a low last night of 53 degrees.  I took a SAS Institute group out that was very homogenous and jovial.  Dragonflies, cicadas and wrens were everywhere. Most of my group swam in the swimming hole.  The day had a crisp fall feeling in the air.  One person congratulated me on my work.


Expedition #108 - August 23, 2000 - afternoon

        Another perfect day of weather for the second SAS & CCB group.  They were quite jovial and satisfied.  My commentary added little to the natural beauty.  Took a 290 pounder in a boat solo. One of the largest wafters so far.  One guy threw a rubber snake into a boat with women when I was talking about snakes under the first ironwood.  That prank was a first ever among my groups and created lots of laughs.  The water temperature is seventy-five degrees, amazingly cool for this time of year.


Expedition #109 - August 26, 2000 - morning

        Nice weather with a group of twenty.  Dragonflies are the symbol of August on the river along with cardinal flowers and elderberries. It was a quiet group with few responses to my questions.  I lopped off two more planned expeditions for next Sunday on Labor Day Weekend to free up my heavy spirit.  I have had to do that twice now just to allow my spirit to waft.  The turtles are out on the logs in good numbers because the water temperature is so cool. That makes it nice for ecotourists.  Between groups Josie and I found a beautiful snake on the rocks.


Expedition # 110 - August 26, 2000 - afternoon

        I had a group of fifteen on a lazy late summer day. After the elm tree I was thinking about Jamaica for some reason.  When I got to the Synott Hole I spoke to a woman who said she was in Jamaica recently.  While there she slipped on a waterfall and cut herself.  The incident brought on a rare blood disease that is documented in only four hundred cases.  I asked her if she mentioned this to the elm tree.  She said no because she mentioned other things. On our return we paused under the elm tree again for her. Maybe this is the way it will work and I just need to be more sensitive to hearing information "wafted to me from the other side," as Henry Thoreau said. 


Expedition #111 - September 2, 2000 - morning

          It was foggy and warm.  A cuckoo began to call in the Black Lagoon, then flew over the river and was very loud directly behind the elm tree.  This Holy Trinity of mist, cuckoo and elm tree made for a marvelous time of wafting meditation. A little girl sat in front of me in my boat whose power animal was a crocodile.  She saw every log in the river as a crocodile head!  We all swam in the Synott Hole and light rain began as we paddled back.  I'm waiting for the one o'clock forecast to make a decision about my afternoon group.  


Expedition #112 - September 2, 2000 - afternoon

        I blew away storms all day to keep this expedition on track.  Wow, this skill is so powerful!  I took out a nice group of students from NCCU that were from Trinidad.  Everyone swam in the Synott Hole. With me in my boat was a writer from Sicily who wrote a book about tuna weirs in the Mediterranean. I was content with the day. It poured as we put up the boats!


Expedition # 113 - September 7, 2000 - afternoon

        The sun came out for the first time in many days.  The wafters were a group of thirteen employees from Nortel, mostly French Canadians.  I was able to allow each one to paddle solo. I charged them $300 as a private group.  Both species of Herons were out fishing as were many turtles basking on logs.  We did not swim as they were an easily entertained group. When discussing cosmic trees under the elm tree they mentioned the sugar maple as theirs.  It is noteworthy that a bird is our national symbol but the Canadians have a tree. It would be interesting to research the countries who have trees for a national symbol as opposed to those who have a predatory animal. I wonder if the tree countries might be less aggressive?


Expedition #114 - September 7, 2000 - evening

        It was a clear but cool moonlit night.  I took out eighteen Pathfinders from the NC School of Science and Math. My drum sounded hollow tonight.  It would only beat in the middle, when normally I'm used to striking its outer edges.  Clouds rolled in as we exited the Black Lagoon. The cool air was a little distracting tonight.  Perhaps that is what effected my drum.  I can't believe that in previous years I used to waft all the way into the month of November!  


Expedition #115 - September 8, 2000 - evening

        My energy dropped way low after an afternoon nap.  I had to call Josie to come over and help me manage this night group.  She brought some Lebanese food and we ate stuffed grapes leaves and olives.  I had to drink a cup of coffee, but I recovered 90% - wow!  I took out a nice group of twenty-three, four men and nineteen women.  I generally prefer groups that are more gender balanced.  There certainly was a preponderance of feminine energy out there as Don Juan Matus would say!  My drumming was solid as I journeyed to the back side of the moon, a very dark feminine place.  The evening air was very seasonal and much warmer than the previous night.  I was pleased with our shamanic experience …


Expedition #116 - September 9, 2000 - morning

        I took out a group of thirteen wafters in very lovely weather.  Only one child went swimming.  Behind the giant sycamore tree bees were swarming, crickets and grasshoppers were buzzing with a mix of cicadas, woodpeckers, blue jays and wrens - really a wonderful blended symphony of natural sounds.  I actually entered a blissful state for several minutes.  Today the weather is simply awesome and definitely a transition day into the fall season!  Shift is happening …


Expedition #117 - September 9 2000 - evening

        Twenty-two folks wafted on a gorgeous moonlit night. There were several frequent floaters back for more journeying.  My energy was up with a strong coffee ahead of time. The elm tree experience was fluid.  I timed it with a watch in my lap and drummed for twelve minutes.  I flew to the backside of the moon as a macaw and licked the rocks for healing the way macaws go to salt licks along the banks of the Amazon River. I heard a leopard frog call upstream as we were winding down our journey, perhaps the first one I've ever heard calling at night in the park. When helping folks out of their boats at the end, one man commented to me that while I was drumming he heard other drumming and chanting in the forest!  Everyone seemed satisfied with their experience. There was unusual energy floating around out there in the moonlight!


Expedition #118 - September 10, 2000 - afternoon

        I took out an enjoyable neighborhood group from Cary.  Several teens really ate up my plays and puns on the word wafting which I employed to keep their attention. There were may comments of appreciation as they departed for home.

Expedition #119 - September 11, 2000 - afternoon

        I had thirteen student wafters from the N.C. State University Scholars Program on a beautiful afternoon.  Summer has returned after an early cold and rainy spell.  Hummingbirds were still working the cardinal flowers. We had an especially good swimming time at the Synott Hole and I basked on the hot rock in an energy absorbing mood. In the end the horse flies sent us all packing in desperation. It was an easy group to lead and I felt fortunate to have such a pleasant job.


Expedition #120 - September 11, 2000 - evening

        Josie brought a group of seven out from the UNC Latin American Studies program.  We were late waiting for several that turned out to be no-shows.  One woman got what she described as claustrophobia in the Black Lagoon and had to be paddled out.  She was later able to resolve that under the elm tree. Josie said she journeyed to a hospital in Wilmington to come to the aid of her prematurely born grandnephew.  I was pleased with her choice.  It turned out to be an odd group.  I'm unsure about all that really transpired.  I decided not to needle anyone.


Expedition #121 - September 12, 2000 - afternoon

        It was a lovely warm day with fifteen from the NC State University Student Scholars program and it was a pleasant group of kids to be with.  I brought my mask and snorkel to the Synott Hole for the first time this year.  The water was not optimal as it was stirred up with little flakes of mud but it was fun.  While snorkeling I came upon a submerged deer carcass for the first time ever! 


Expedition #122 - September 12, 2000 - evening

        It was a fabulous clear moonlit night. Fifteen NC State University dorm kids came, many of whom had already been daylight wafting with the scholar's program.  I wafted with their Chinese dorm counselor named Christine.  I took paddled her under the Ailanthus, the Chinese "tree of heaven," in the full moon and pulled down a leaf to test her reaction to its smell.  I find it has a foul oder but of course she liked it very much.  She will be visiting her country of origin for the first time as an adult this fall, carrying with her genetic memory of tree of heaven.

        Because of the large size of the group I didn't take them up the Black Lagoon so I lingered longer under the elm tree.  I measured my drumming at fourteen minutes. Ten members of a local Rose Heart Sufi community were along as well.  They sang harmony to my songs and did it in rounds as well!  I was amazed.  Afterwards they invited me to participate in moonlight Sufi dancing on the grass in front of the mill and I enjoyed it immensely until way past midnight.  


Expedition #123 - September 16, 2000 - morning

        It was the first really cool morning with lows in the forties but lots of sunshine, so I was able to get the boats in the sun and keep everyone warm.  The wafters were a group of thirteen Duke students majoring in Conservation Biology and Michael Owen, a frequent floater from 1990 who brought along ten of his friends.  There were many basking turtles to observe.  The woman who rode with me had a strange infection on her hand that we were able to remedy with an application of riverside growing jewelweed.  One couple swam, but most found the water too cool for dipping.  I'm now having to work hard gathering my energy for each group.  I don't remember it like this in previous years.  I maxed out somewhere around September first.


Expedition #124 - September 16, 2000 - afternoon

        With cool crisp air, a group of twenty-three from the Judea Reform Congregation came out to waft the Eno River.  It was still too cool for most to swim. I shared my power animal story about the macaw under the elm tree for the first time for a group.  I demonstrated a macaw's vocalization since there were so many children in the group.  This could be a theme for next year.  I caught a baby river cooter and passed it around from boat to boat for all to hold.  This was my last double day of outings for the season.  I'm fast running out of energy.


Expedition #125 - September 17, 2000 - afternoon 

        Duke English professor Peter Fulton brought out his American literature class and we talked about Hawthorne, Poe and the dark side of human nature.  His students were rather reserved at first but soon opened up.  He asked that I wear a microphone so what I said could be recorded while his girlfriend aimed a movie camera at me.  I found it very hard to relax and will not agree to such an arrangement ever again! He said it will be transcribed and appear in a Duke publication, but I'm sure it will require extensive editing and be diluted beyond the point of any authenticity.   A huge foraging flock of black birds passed over us while we were in the Black Lagoon.  I took it as an ill omen.  One student asked if the Christmas tree with all its material gifts under it has become America's sacred tree.  I found his question to be very insightful, Santa ascending and descending along the cosmic axis mundi of commercialism. 


Expedition #126 - September 20, 2000 - morning

        I took a delightful group of fourteen from a senior center in Sanford, plus my friends Ray and Rosemary Register who surprisingly dropped in from Nazareth, Israel on their way to California.   We poked along to the elm tree and back.  I told the group how that morning I had witnessed a most talented male cardinal dance and sing repeatedly in a circle around his dazzled mate and then hop on her back.  One wafter then remarked that he had taught that cardinal everything he knows!  His wife jabbed him with her elbow and everyone roared.  


Expedition #127 - September 20, 2000 - afternoon

        All the employees of a small Durham business came wafting. They were in their twenties and thirties.  We went straight to the Synott Hole for a dip in cool clear water, then shifted to sun dance and turtle watching.  I almost fell asleep from utter exhaustion while sunning on the big rock.  I was thankful for Josie's help in managing these two groups today.  


Expedition #128 - September 21, 2000 - CANCELED

        I had to cancel my final group today due to steady rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Helene passing through the area.  I simply had no reserve energy to try to blow this last storm away. I surrendered and just let Helene wash over us and she felt damn good!  My eleventh season of Wafting the Eno River came to a close with a total of 2061 wafters.  I am grateful to the Eno River for her generosity towards me, my family and my community. 


       May all beings in the Eno River Valley be happy, well, safe and peaceful ... 

       Edited and Published online March 17, 2022