Sunday, August 15, 2010

Smooth Kayaking Too

The same breeze that keeps us cool on hot days makes kayaking too much work for me. There's enough chop by 8:30 a.m. that I'd have to wiggle into the sprayskirt and, of course, the paddling is that much more of a workout -- good for the biceps and triceps and whatnot, but I'm on holiday, no?

But by early evening, the breeze has died right down, and the sky is a study in feathery blues and pinks; when Pater suggests we paddle around the island, I put down my book and follow. Last night was one of the calmest ever, the water glassy smooth, the air still enough for sounds to drift across, motorcycles gunning their engines in town to harmonize with teens laughing at their campsite on a nearby island, a dog on a boat barking at a canine competitor guarding one of our neighbours' properties, seagulls comparing vocal range with the purple martens swooping into their nesting boxes posted in the causeway.

Although there was very little breeze, smells assailed us almost as vigorously as sounds. Beef being grilled on a barbeque mixed unpromisingly with the musky fishrot announcement of an otter's hangout but both were happily erased when we turned the corner into a strong note of ozone mixed with the clean iodine-y scent of the saltchuck. And around another corner again, into the freshcut wood smell pulsating off the log booms.

Last year, on a similar evening paddle, I was mesmerized at this same spot by a procession of gulls flying ever so purposefully across the darkening sky towards what I could easily imagine as a meeting in some known-only-to-The-Gull-Lodge location. Tonight, instead, I was besotted with the huge drums that mark the edges of the log booms -- fifteen or more feet long, at least five or six feet high, giant barrels, anchored presumably, which serve to tie the log booms up while they're awaiting transfer to the mill. The drums are painted a bright red-orange, but are rusted from the waterline up several feet, and the setting sun, or more properly its candy-coloured residue, turns their homeliness into the most sublime objects. The perfect demonstration of a colour wheel's lessons, they transform the dullness of the blue water below them. Together, the gently undulating blue-grey-silver and the momentarily glorious rust-red-orange form a spiritual union, a synergistic satisfaction for this happy viewer. I mark the page: last year, the meeting-bound gulls; this year, the heavy richness of industrial beauty; what will I read here next year?

And finally, back on our side of the island, the east side, and heading northward home, the quarter-moon takes over lighting from the sun, and while it's not yet dark enough for the bio-luminescence to brighten our way, the lights of the big ferry heading to the mainland sketch a magical castle on the dusky horizon. The greys and blues and pinks are all muted, slightly hazy, the colours of a velvety, powder-free chalk, oil pastels, smudged. With no resistant breeze to work against, I paddle easily, steadily, my arms caught in a rhythm requiring no thought. An insistent rhythm, though, that I catch yearning toward those ferry/fairy lights -- for an odd little second or two, I recognize a willingness to paddle off toward the horizon, mile after calm mile, my thoughts suspended, my breathing deep and relaxed.

Of course, I do no such thing, and instead round the last corner after Pater and crunch the kayak up on the beach, swinging myself out and onto shore. Remembering the words of Louis Armstrong: what a wonderful world, oh yeaaaaah!

Smooth Sailing . . .

It's supposed to get to 34 degrees in Nanaimo today (about 93, Farenheit), a bit too warm for me, really. Luckily, it's always a few degrees cooler by the water, and as you can see from these photos I took the other day, there have been some decent breezes -- enough to fill the rather odd sail on this somewhat unusual (welded aluminium?) sailboat.

And as if we weren't already lucky enough -- sunshine mitigated by the breeze off the water -- today's high tide happens at 11:30, so we'll have some prime swimming right when we need to cool down.

So I'll be out on the deck, reading the weekend papers, soaking up the morning sunshine, and waiting for the water to come in over that beach you see pictured below. (If it makes you feel any better about my stint here in Paradise, I have to head back to campus tomorrow and get my course outlines to the print shop. . . . )

May you have a sumptuous, indulgent Sunday (or at least an indulgent moment or two) wherever you are, whatever the weather!