Several years ago, my friend Elizabeth Burke and I rowed twice a week through the Seattle winter. We ventured out without fail as dawn was breaking - rowing two single shells or a double. We'd row from the Fremont Bridge to the Chittenden Locks and back, or maybe across Lake Union and on to Lake Washington. Sometimes we'd come back to our home at the Lake Washington Rowing Club and wipe the ice off our boats. But we always came back with an irrefutable sense of moral superiority! We'd done it again!

Rowing - particularly Rowing Through the Winter - provides a richness of metaphors...instructive in my life as a Family Physician and the Home Dialysis CarePartner for my profoundly ill husband, Steve Williams. Now that Steve is gone, rowing reminds me of consistency and focus - so critical during grieving. Rowing requires balance, as does my life.

Row with me this winter. Linda Gromko, MD

Monday, January 3, 2011

Crackling Through Ice on the New Year's Day Row

When Head of the Charles Champion Susan Kinne sent out the club-wide invitation for a New Year's Day Row, she set the time as 9 a.m. - something civilized.

And rowers came - right on time - to get in that first row of 2011. Most rowers took doubles, triples, and quads. There was a single or two. Someone brought up the possibility of rowing an eight - but nobody wanted to be the coxswain; everybody wanted to row.

I was delighted to be in a quad with Jeff, Jack, and Bert. We took the Nike, with a pace and set quite remarkable for folks who hadn't rowed together before.

We set off through Lake Union, to Portage Bay, on through the Montlake Cut, and out towards Foster Island.

Someone suggested we all row to the University of Washington dock, and swap out rowers, i.e. each boat trade out one person. (I figured that would likely be me.)

But as we got near the UW, we paused for hundreds and hundreds of ducks - or some sort of water birds. Suddenly, we all felt clunking against our oars.

It was ice! We were rowing through sheets and sheets of thin ice floating on the surface of the water. It crackled as we'd hit it, plates of ice moving aside with the contact of our oars. I've wiped ice off my boat when coming in during the winter before, but I've never sculled an ice-breaker!

The plan for rower swapping was abandoned, and we rowed back to the boathouse.
Some folks went out to coffee or breakfast. I went to my Queen Anne office to finish my medical charting.

It was a glorious morning - crisp and clear. A new year bringing the best rowing I've ever experienced, and the promise for much more to come.

My best wishes to all for a Happy New Year!
Linda Gromko,. MD

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