Friday, August 6, 2010

The favor

There is the very lightest of mist in the air. It is invisible and only its touch on bare skin tells of its presence. The ground shows no dampness nor does my jacket. These drops are so light that they fail to descend earthward.
Most days when I paddle out there is an intent on observation, although that may not always occur. As I portaged to the south lagoon this morning I wondered what my purpose was. It seemed that today I only needed to feel the paddle working in my hands. This is the tool of the canoeist. Canoes come and go, they are vehicles, they carry you, but the paddle, that is different. I carve my own paddles and this one is of cherry. It is finished with linseed oil, so there is not even a thin layer of varnish between the wood and my hands. With each use it acquires stains, buffs and scratches that tell of each day it has been in the water. The shaft and grip get smoother with every use. Every once in a while I wipe it with more oil, an action that is more a returning of the favor than it is a chore.

I circle the bay, stopping and passing through the usual places, a slight lean to the left when paddling on that side, a slight lean to the right when paddling the other. The paddle has returned the favor.

1 comment:

Kathleen Faulkner said...

Your paddles are inspired works of art.