Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paddling (and not writing about nature)

I put the kayak in the water and started paddling. I scanned the edges of the lake and saw many houses, which was a disappointment, but as I started to make my s l o w crawl across the body of water, I could see there was an island smack dab in the middle of the whole thing. It looked so far away. I wondered whether I could actually get there and back without exhausting myself. Then, I realized it didn't matter if I got there. I would just paddle and see what happened.

I did make it to the island, and circled around it. A kingfisher came chattering out of nowhere (as they always do), but louder than normal; it was chasing a kestrel. I wonder why.

Imagine that sound, only louder and faster.

This was the second time this week I've gone kayaking, and only the third time in my life. I felt as if I was meant to do this. I need it. The act of paddling quietly alone in a little boat feels so much like meditation. I am confronted with my aches and pains, but I move through them as I move through the water. Ideas of "getting somewhere" (such as that little island) feel like impediments. If I just focus on each dip of the paddle in the water, I'll get where I need to be.

I've been asked why I don't write about nature more. I thought about this each time I took the kayak out. On Tuesday, I saw two mature male bald eagles and a few black ducks. Heard the cry of a loon. Moved the boat through thick bog and the last of the summer's water lilies.

I have no more to say about any of this than what I've written above; barely more than a laundry list. What can I say about the birds, the glistening rocks, the expanse of sky and water? All I can say is that I find it all awesome in the true sense of the word. I am awe struck. Even a passing dragonfly causes me to smile broadly.

If I were to write about nature in future, I'd probably choose to use poetry. I'd like to write more about why this is, but I'm tired, sun burnt, and should have been asleep at least two hours ago.

There is a disconnect lately between life and blogging. Memories seem to be the stuff I can write about; I hope to write more posts about food. It's such a rich topic - memories of meals, restaurants, favorite foods both given up and still loved. But nature? No. I need to keep it what it is for me - something that just is, that needn't be analyzed, and that certainly needs nothing extra (such as my thoughts about it).

Photo note: A Belted Kingfisher.


jmcleod76 said...

Where have you been paddling? Melissa and I each have an inflatable Sevylor kayak. They're kind of a pain to inflate, but they have the advantage of being incredibly portable. We just toss them into the trunk of my compact car, and we're ready to go. Plus, they were dirt cheap. I got both for about $100 last summer from someone on Craigslist. There are lots of good deals on kayaks right now - people who bought them for their summer vacations, and don't want to haul them back to Connecticut or New York.

TMC said...

I want to learn to kayak SO MUCH. Whenever I go to lakes I just want to be out in the middle somewhere. I think I'll try to make it a goal for next Summer.

Julie H. Rose said...

So far, just Freedom and Unity ponds (for you folks who don't know, in Maine, ponds are called ponds because they are shallower, not smaller, than lakes). I look forward to exploring every place without whitewater within an hour of here before the snow starts flying.

We borrowed some kayaks, but we're getting two from a rental fleet after Labor Day. Better deals than I've seen on Craig's List, though not a hundred bucks.

jmcleod76 said...

TMC, if you're just doing flatwater, there isn't much to learn. It's easier than you'd imagine. All of the scary-looking rolls and things are just for whitewater.

Julie, the $100 was for two inflatables. Those are only about $100 each brand new. I'd like to get hard kayaks down the line. I've already put a small rip in my boat, and we don't get to even use them much (the rips are easily fixed ... it just comes with the territory). If you find a really good deal somewhere, I'd love to hear about it. The one cool thing about the inflatables is that you can lie down in them, like a canoe. I like to paddle out to the middle of a big pond, lie back and watch the clouds.

Julie H. Rose said...

Jaime's right. There's nothing to it, unless you wanna go down some rapids. I was amazed at how effortless it was. I've kayaked once before, a long time ago, didn't enjoy it that much 'cause we were out in a bay with a lot of boats and the smell of sea and fumes made me nauseous. Now, this is whole 'nother universe. 2nd time out, I went myself. And, I've got shoulder, back, and hand problems. So, if I can do it, anyone can.

Jaime, you can't lay down in a kayak (though maybe in a 14 footer?), unless you get one of those sit-on-top ones. I find, just like zazen (for me), that the more straight I sit, the more relaxed I am and my paddling becomes near effortless. I'm sure you can find something this time of year, just like you said. If you want to lay down, just paddle out to an island. These ponds and lakes are full of 'em! I am enchanted by these little islands. Next time I go out, I wanna bring my kntting and stop on one. Or bring a book. Or just meditate. Or. . .

There's a guy on Craig's List that has his rental fleet for sale; I forget where, but I think near you. "My" guy's got his rental fleet sold out now 'cept for two unused somewhat higher end 10 footers for $410 (Wilderness Pungo 100). Old Town will be having their end-of-year sale on Columbus Day weekend - 40% off everything. But these things ain't cheap! I called a guy who had a great deal and he said he got 22 calls within ten minutes of posting on Craig's List. I was #23.

jmcleod76 said...

Ooh, I wonder if Old Town marks down even their "recreational" models, like the Loon or Vapor. Those aren't badly priced to begin with, and certainly not at 40% off.

I know you can't lie down in a hard kayak. The inflatable ones we have are sort of built more like short canoes like so. They look kind of silly, but are perfectly serious kayaks and are, as noted above, incredibly convenient to transport. People have taken them down the Amazon River, and there is a touring company that uses them exclusively for trips on the Colorado River. In fact, they make them mainly for white water use, but they work well in flatwater, too. They don't track as well as hard ones, of course, but the price and portability make up for it, especially if you're just out for a leisurely paddle.