Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Last of July

The alarm sounds. An arm reaches over to hit the button that silences the noise. A moment passes as an assessment is made of the temperature in the bedroom. Birds are chirping. Their celebrations of life echo through the fog of morning fatigue.

Muscles protest at the shift from horizontal to vertical. A face stares back in the mirror showing no thoughts behind weary eyes eventually hidden as the shower steams the mirror. Even uncharacteristically hot water does not instill vigor.

The bedroom climate is not a reflection of what is found when the front door opens. While the outside is not the cold, crisp morning dreamed of in the mind only now starting to turn over, neither is it the hot, humid hell that was expected. The brain coughs to life as the key turns in the ignition of the truck.

Miles pass under the wheels and caffeine molecules from a bitter brew start to course the blood. Sun streams through the window and flashing lights on a cruiser warn of a merge. A news recap has replaced the avian songs of just minutes earlier.

As the eyes scan the road looking for what the future will hold the brain joins the task. It is a symposium weekend and the reconstituting “I” comprehends that the day will entail being the assistant for Ben Lawry’s class. Plans for collecting the golden nuggets of information and technique are made.

I coast into Carl and Sam’s driveway to drop off a couple of boats brought down for guests. Carl and Ben are there prepping the trucks. Greetings are exchanged and orders taken as I mount back up and head for the bakery. The second cup of coffee, excitement at being part of a class I haven’t experienced and the lateness of the hour finish waking me up.

As I deliver the orders, the “I” only just reasserting its existence is merged into the “we” that is the shop. We are preparing to receive clients for Ben’s class, a tour for Rob and Dave, a rescue class for Carl and the normal inundation of renters. Boats are moved off trailers and racks. Plans shifted, clients organized and staff coordinated. It is the bustle of a new day in the height of the season.

Ben’s class starts and the “we” changes from shop staff to instructor, assistant and participants in the normal ebb and flow of OSKA. We begin the process of coordinating logistics, integrating our launch between renters and tours, figuring where we might have lunch and paying attention to the lesson. Somewhere just outside of the “we” I am trying to pick up how the course is delivered. After all, one benefit of working here is being exposed to other instructors and ideas in order to add depth to my own classes.

The shop bell peels through the morning air heralding the arrival of August and its people. We pull away from the landing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Run

The wave picks up my boat. It is not a terribly large wave but it is big enough to be worth the effort…I start the slide down the face. My vision switches from the five feet around my boat up to the line of the wave to my right. I feel the rail bite into the wave face as I arc back up the face and away from the pile. My head swivels to the left, I see some clear wave and then the pile. My arms shift my paddle to the left side of the boat and as my weight moves across the center line, the left rail grabs the water. I shoot back down the face back towards the foam. I shift for another bottom turn. As the wave catches up and starts to lift the stern end of my boat I reach out over the side, my eyes searching down the line. In the corner of my eye I notice something at the same time I feel a tightening in my abs. My weight is too far forward and my right, forward rail is running down the wave and not following the direction my body is going. My world shrinks back to the five feet around my boat. The bow pulls away from my head and shoulders while my torso sinks into the wave. I try a crunch to save it, but it is too late…I am upside down and my body is acting like a sea anchor as it stops my forward progress. I feel myself fall off the back of the wave. I roll up, blow water out of my nose and look around to see if I am about to get tooled by the next wave. I will do better next time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wicked Smart

We arrived at the shop yesterday to find an 18-wheeler parked across the front of the store. It turns out our Ocean Kayak order had arrived. After a few minutes of knocking on the cab window the trucker woke up and we began unloading the boats. The day was warm and humid so being in the trailer was a great way to start the day.

It turned out to be a busy day...so busy that I forgot to put on sunscreen. I am tempted to have Sam snap a picture of what the back of my freshly shaved head looks like...and by the way, I had completely forgotten that hair can hurt. The theme for the day turned out to be "Family Day". We had a kayak birthday party and a steady flow of sons and fathers, moms and daughters with only the occasional dating couple.

The wind is up, there is a tropical storm off of Va and I need more coffee...enjoy the new video once it loads...I had a blast putting it together.

Mike's Tip of the Week #1 is here!

I finished the final edit this morning and as I type it is loading into YouTube. It should be up by 8:30 am.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Xpression Video

The video for the 7/14 Xpression Session is up on our YouTube channel.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Xpression Session 7/14

For weeks I had been hearing about the fun, the food and the good vibes at the Xpression Sessions on Monday nights. I live north of Boston so when I saw that there would be swell from Bertha hitting I took Monday off to surf and see what all the noise was about. Carl and I got out in the morning to get a little time on task before the evening. When we swung by the shop we found out that Mike had been fielding calls all morning from folks wanting to come check out the scene. West was bringing a bunch of folks from Zoar and the regular crew was organizing. The excitement around Osprey became palpable. Friends were coming to join the fun! Around 4 we started loading the vehicles. Food, gear and boats were pulled together and some of the folks West had in tow swung by the house to say “Hi”. The energy started becoming infectious…so to get a few rides in before setting up the beach party, Carl and I boogied on down to the landing. He got a mediocre ride before he had one that he owned all the way in. It took me a while to get out but within a couple of minutes I had a run like none I have had before. Since I wasn’t going to top it, I jumped on out to video.

It was about 5:30 and cars were pulling in with all manner of boats…sit-on-tops, play boats as well as surf kayaks. Out came the bbq, chairs, snacks and the cheering section. The party had begun. We had a rough count of 20 folks surfing and 15 on shore watching. For a Monday night it felt an awful lot like a Saturday. Soon the smells of food cooking hit the air. As the sun went down folks trickled off the water and the shore scene kicked into high gear. I stayed well into the evening before heading back north of Boston.

I hope there is more surf next Monday, I have taken that one off too!


Monday, July 7, 2008

The Day After Independence

Low, ominous clouds darkened the river. The occasional smell of rotting vegetation wafted on the slight breath of a breeze almost cool enough to condense the moisture in the air to mist. An Osprey flittered around its nest, like some demented moth battering away at a light bulb, reacting to the noisy chicks begging for food. Turns and gulls patrolled the air seeing what could be seen. Not eager to spend energy actively hunting but not willing to hide from the threatening sky.

Carl and I watched from the landing while we waited for the customers to show up for their tour. Paddling in this type of weather was perfect. A short time later we were gliding across the glassy water introducing our clients to the wonders of the West Branch and kayaking.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I love kayaking. The feeling of sliding into a boat and slipping into the water is as comfortable as pulling into a friend’s driveway and walking into their house. A sunrise or sunset on quiet water to enjoy the beauty of nature, traveling along the coast in 20 knot winds and 4 foot seas as a challenge to be in the now, weaving through a rock garden playing with the skills of control or flying down a wave in a mix of fear and exhilaration are all activities that make me happy to be alive and human. Running a class where both the students and I feed off of each other’s love of what we are doing is as big a rush as any I have experienced.

Saturday was one of those days that make this all so addicting for me. The students were excited to be doing this thing. Their energy amped mine and the questions they raised throughout the day added to the depth of the course. I was stunned that they wolfed down their lunch faster than I could and were edgy to get going again. When we reached the end of the class, they were tired but happy and still interested. I love this sport.