Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nothing comes to mind

It is a day of scattered thoughts.

A friend has passed away, not only a friend, but a father of friends. I think of him often as I paddle but never in one coherent train. The big lake has a following wind with something that actually resembles waves in water that usually just presents an arrhythmic chop.

But, no thoughts come to mind.

The east marsh is nothing but lush. The cattails are at their maximum - a dense green wall of spears. The little calved island has formed again and I am drawn into the 30 foot wide channel, which narrows to 3-1/2 feet, just enough for the canoe. Then, I find myself in a cul de sac that is one foot larger in diameter than the length of the canoe. I spin and return. It is not an island.

Still, no thoughts come to mind.

In Portage Bay, I spy an old man on a houseboat staring at me. He just keeps staring and staring as I near, and I move nearer because he continues to stare. Then, he says, "you don't see many people that know how to paddle a canoe." He likes my J-stroke. I stop. We chat. He invites me up the hill to show me two 60 year old Swedish canoes that have never been in the water. They are made of diagonal laid veneers, a technique used for racing shells years ago. It is boat and canoe talk. He pulls out a reprint of an 1878 book about a couple guys that make a canoe out of paper and take it on a very long trip. He whips out Adney's famous book on bark canoes and skin kayaks. Then it's time to go. Back on my kneeling thwart, I tell him, "holler if you see me out here some day."

Nothing special comes to mind.

I continue up and over to Lake Union. By now it is the idiot hour. A short parade of toy ships come by on the wrong side of the navigation buoy. I point at a clod in a 40 footer and hand signal to him to give me more room, which he does with a smile because he cannot read my lips, which are currently forming the words, "fucking imbecile." A rental boat with 8 party heads weaves and wiggles directly at me, and not directly at me, and directly at me, until, in my best deep and loud voice, I yell, "Yo! Gilligan!" They look up like deer in the headlights and decide to not to get any closer than they already are. They are on a three hour tour. I cannot deny that there is some entertainment value in watching idiots and the brain-dead operating power machinery.

I take out and portage up and over the hill without a thought in mind.

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