In my last post "The Genetics of River Passion," I explored the idea of a Love for the River as potentially being a genetic trait, something that is in our blood. I sited instances of recent inheritance of this gene, passed from parent to child to grand child, even popping up in other branches of a family tree, but all within visible reach. I then left a big question wide open... "Where did this gene come from?" Speculating that it comes from a time when waterways were highways- a necessary way of life and survival, I left it at that. Then, I found said article...
I was browsing through some Scottish History (as I tend to do dorky things like that,) and was suddenly awe struck at one line in a simple little blip about my family history....
"The beautiful but very dangerous, Loch Awe has been an inspiration to many of the MacArthur family and they were known to be experts at boating and seamanship."
Well slap me silly and paint me red! There it is! Right there, on a Scottish cultural preservation web site! I should have know it all along! Rivers do flow in my veins! And not just any River either, the River Awe... the River where I wrapped my first and only (so far, knock on wood) raft. Wrapped 'er good too! I mean no pulleys or anything, but about four people hauling on one rope to get 'er off type wrapped good.It was 2001, I was 19 years old and had made my way to Edinburgh with a fiddle and a backpack, following some sort of primal urge pulling my young seeking self home to the motherland. Caledonia, Alba, Scotland... cold, wet, mildewy, stuffy... beautiful, magical, insatiable to my generations old homesick heart. After a month or so of hitch hiking around Scotland and exploring Edinburgh, my birthday rolled around. Always having spent my birthday on the River, I of course found myself on the door step of Splash White Water Rafting in Aberfeldy the eve before. Then the day I turned 20, rather than simply going boating as anticipated... I ended up working a trip and staying on at Splash for the rest of the season!
|The Iconic view of Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe.|
One of the Rivers commercially run in Scotland is the River Awe, a short 6 mile River which runs from the outlet of Loch Awe to the mouth of Loch Etive. A lovely little class II+ /III- River, our TL (trip leader) Brian, asked me if I would like to run point (first boat) on my first Awe trip, as I Love reading & running, and he knew I was good at it. I enthusiastically agreed, and had already been eyeballing my line down the left side of the first little bony rapid called "The Graveyard." After the safety speech however, my four customers implored me to please be gentle with them as they were "very nervous" and "not sure that they really wanted to do this." I pulled Brian aside and told him about my nervous customers, suggesting that he should run point after all.
|Graveyard rapid on the River Awe|
|McArthur Clan Crest "Faith & Work"|
The McArthur Clan is an ancient Clan. So old that there is no longer an official Clan Seat. So old in fact, that it was sort of lost in the modern world of Clans. Only recently was an official clan society resurrected to honor all of the sects of "Arthur." There is a saying in the Highlands: "As old as the hills, the MacArthurs, and the Devil."
Them boatmen MacArthurs... even though sailing has never been my calling, I have enjoyed some in my day, and have a few relatives who are very into it, including my Uncle "Captain" Jack who has lived on a 22' sail boat for over 40 years. However, in the immortal words of Ratty from The Wind in the Willows- "There is nothing in this world my dear friend, nothing, quite so delightful as messing about in boats, simply messing about in boats!" Whether your heart floats amongst lake/loch currents, ocean waves, or flowing creeks and Rivers- we are all boatmen, and are all passionate about our boats and the waters they travel upon. It would seem that yes, this passion is indeed a genetic trait that flows in our blood.
Curious about the findings of my watery heritage, I did a quick google search for McArthur with various boat/river words and found- of course myself on the Kokopelli rafting guide bio page, but also, a Charlie MacArthur who is the founder of the Aspen Kayak Academy, and USA canoe/kayak Olympic team member Jared McArthur. Also, who could forget the young woman who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005- Ellen MacArthur. It would seem that my immediate family are not the only descendants to have carried on this boatman gene that the MacArthur clan was so renown for.