My son was late in arriving. Nine months came and went without any stirrings from him. Another week went by. Still nothing. Cindy and I had both taken leave from work and we had time on our hands, so we loaded up the lapstrake decked canoe I’d built and headed for the lake. We had paddled a mile or so and it was then that Nathan, as he would be named, made his move. Contractions had begun, and not long after putting the canoe back in the garage we were on our way to the hospital. My entry into fatherhood the next day was marked by an unforgettable display of color. Nate arrived after a long and difficult delivery and his skin was a luminescent lilac color. Then, with each of the first breaths he drew, he turned, chameleon-like, a pink so radiant that I thought he’d be too hot to touch. Ten days later, we got Nate back out on the water as a newborn, not in the canoe, but in the Chamberlain gunning dory I’d built for my dad. He was a colicky baby, but was soon sound asleep aboard the boat and didn’t make a peep the whole time.Two years and 11 months later, his sister was also digging her heels in well past the nine-month mark. Believing we’d discovered that the gentle rocking of a canoe was a sure-fire way to induce labor, we headed for the water again. Sure enough, the first contraction arrived while we were paddling in the middle of the lake. Alison, who has always been much bolder than her brother about approaching new and different experiences, was, as the doctor discovered, already locked and loaded when we got to the hospital. We took our infant Ali out on the gunning dory too. She was born in August, the height of blackberry season, so we rowed around the lake picking the berries that grew along the water’s edge. As we passed by one of the lake’s floating homes, the sight of a swaddled baby brought the lady of the house out on the deck.“My, so tiny!” she said. “When was that baby born?”

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