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River rafting offers insight into art, literature

AMESVILLE — David Albano was standing on a picnic table with a paddle and issuing instructions about what to do in the event of a dunking. “Don’t panic,” he said. “Try to get around to the back of the boat.”He was talking to a group of about 15 students from Fox Lane High School in Bedford, N.Y., who were about to take three rafts from Clarke Outdoors down the swollen Housatonic, from below the Great Falls to the Housatonic Meadows park. Albano, an English teacher, offers a course called “Philosophy of the Wild” as an English department elective. Most of the students are seniors.All of them were pumped up about the rafting trip — Albano had to do a little shepherding to make sure everybody shoved off at more or less the same time.He said his course offers a look at nature and wilderness through literature and art.The catalog description reads, in part: “The course will look at the changing cultural attitudes toward the environment as defined by the concepts of nature and wilderness. Students will survey various definitions of ‘wilderness’ and explore the relationship of the individual and the community to the ‘wild.’”Some of the rafters were optimistic in T-shirts and shorts. Other, more experienced rafters, wore long pants and layers. Everyone wore a life jacket.

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