Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Every once in a while I experience what turns out to be a truly backhanded karmic experience. In the past two weeks or so I have experienced a precipitous drop in my IQ. It manifests itself as a series of mistakes in the course of my non-kayak job. Nothing earth shattering, just silly little “Oh, why did I do that?” types of things that are embarrassing. They become especially obvious when they are strung together as they have been.

Initially I thought it was backlash for feeling brilliant about recent perfomance on a project. It is not the first time I have brought myself down in such a fashion and it always sucks. However, while wallowing in a pool of shame this morning I realized that this didn’t happen while I was at Osprey. The style of mistakes I am making would drive Sam and Carl up a wall and lead to some awkward decisions on the water.

So, back to the backhanded karmic experience…yes I am currently experiencing poor intellectual performance in a very public way, but at least it isn’t while I am kayaking. I wonder what I did to get a save like that! All I know is that I won't be getting on the water again until I get this sorted out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hand Roll

I give myself a sweep of the paddle and as my boat spins I survey the pool. Other kayaks are on the deck as students get their gear on and pick one. I set my paddle on the water and wind my body to the left. As my arms start to reach out my eyes close and I dive into the water. I feel the boat flip over as I try to twist myself underneath it. I slowly exhale to keep the hyper-chlorinated water out of my sinuses…an effort that will eventually fail.

Some people do this with grace and fluidity. Their body and their boat are one as they move through water and air. For me it is violent, the fight that prey have with inevitability. The boat has my legs and isn’t letting go. It wants control. It wants me in the water. Practice allows me to keep panic at bay and the world shrinks to just the air in my lungs, the movement of my torso and the will to get upright.

My hands break the surface of the water. My hips snap in a massive thrash as I bring the boat to heel and make it come upright under me again. I rotate onto my back and swing one arm to finish. As I sit upright, my eyes open and the world comes into focus. Liquid pours off my face and out of my nose. The pool is disturbed and splashing at the sides. I take a breath as I look for the paddle.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Last Tour

I look out on the lawn and count the boats and then check the rest of the gear. Perfume carried across the breeze is the first indication that the clients have started to arrive. They are all from one group and chat busily. We get them suited up and oriented in a quick, well practiced fashion. Launching is just as quick. The air is crisp and what leaves are left have turned the muted colors of late fall. The tree line is hazy with naked branches. A steady north wind blows us down a river that was teaming with life not 2 weeks ago but is now only populated with a couple cormorants and a few migratory gulls. A lonely turkey vulture wheels in the sky over a field in the distance, searching for something hunters may have left behind. The group is pleasant and the boat I am in, interesting. It would be more at home in surf or among rocks than traveling down wind and covering miles. This has turned into a pleasant way to tour the river one last time this season. I won't be on it again until spring.

3 Cords

The engine coughs to life on a quick pull of the cord. There is wood to split. We start with the logs we hadn’t touched since we stacked them last year. The wedge of the splitter forges its way into the material, burying most of the blade before the wood gives way. Insects scamper as their home is sundered. It goes like this until the old stack is processed and it is time to work our way through the new. Log after log goes under the maul. The jumble on the lawn shrinks and the neat rows grow. We stop more often as fatigue creeps in. Conversation is impossible over the sound of the engine and given the weariness in our eyes, there wouldn’t be much to say anyway. This is what life is like at an outfitter in November.