As anyone knows who reads this blog, more often than not I paddle alone. I love the freedom this gives me, paddling where and how I choose, setting my own pace, paying my own form of focused attention to the liminal space between water, light, and human consciousness. But as I look back on the year now behind us I feel extremely grateful to those people who have paddled with me. Standing on the edge between one year and the next, I feel particularly grateful to the following people:
my beloved who prefers to stay close to shore;
my dear friend John who, like Rilke’s swan, slipped quietly into deeper water;
Professor Clem Work who brought his camera and artist’s eye to the lake and allowed me to see the world through his lens;
Jeanne and Glenn who followed me to the island and carried a picnic into the cove where we ate and talked as Bighorn rams and ewes traveled the trail to the isthmus;
Jeff who joined me for a bronco ride across Finley Bay and a downwind race in the strait between Melita and Wild Horse islands;
my brother, also named Jeff. Here the debt is larger as I remember how he taught me to use my camera more skillfully, began to teach me about the physics of waves, and is in the process of forgiving me for taking him nearly three miles past our haul-out because I completely forgot myself (and him) in the joy of meeting an approaching headwind and the waves it generated north of White Swan Point.
We can count our riches in coins and objects or we can count them in the form of gratitude for time spent with other people who expanded the island of our awareness. With these people I have braided wakes left by every stroke.
How marvelous that you can kayak with friends and family. I find it a wonderful solo pursuit, and yet companionship – that of good companions who know when to be still and silent and true on the water – is a blessing. My own family does not, will not kayak. I’ve looked at my daughter and quizzically asked her “Are you sure I’m your mother??” Even her peers have had no luck cajoling her back into a kayak – once was apparently enough – though med school leaves little time for such pleasures anyway, I suppose. Wishing you and yours an early thaw followed by many hours of rewarding spring paddling!
Yes, that seems to be the challenge–finding others who know how to be still, silent and true. Otherwise, we are better off on our own.
Even if your daughter does not join you, I can imagine her pride in her mother.
A few months yet to a thaw, but fantasies and imaginings keep me warm. You will return to the water before I will. One last semester at the university, then freedom!