Sunday, September 25, 2011

A New Paddle

I met SB at the east end of the ancient portage on a morning that was nicer than I expected to find.  Wind and rain had woken me during the night, the trees still well leafed calling out the wind speed.  By dawn, the wind was down, the rain had stopped, and the air was wonderfully fresh.

SB had purchased one of my canoe paddles in an Artist Trust auction several months ago, a deal that came with a canoe trip.  I offered him a trade for a custom paddle, which he took me up on.  I carved one in 1/4-sawn ash with a map of Lake Pend Oreille, his home turf.  Today would be the first time it met water.

one side
and the other
We stopped first to talk with 3-Stars, and then we continue into the south lagoon on a beaver oriented mission, SB remarking at the enormous size of the Workbench Lodge, I pointing out the canal network created by the Hidden Lodge Colony and the collection of scent mounds that divides territory between them and the Big Lodge Colony.  We cut across the bay with a stiff tailwind breeze and find a Clark's grebe near the south railroad island, a bird that is not normally found right here and probably came in to hide out from the night wind storm. 

As we continue, I talk about the landfills, the ten foot lowering of the lake level...all the weird things that man does to "improve" stuff...and how the natural environment continues to push back and put things back to equilibrium.  I watch his new paddle.  I got the length just right.  It's clean.  He likes it.  I tell him how to wipe some boiled linseed oil on it...each or every other trip for the first dozen or so, then when it needs it, and how the shaft will get smoother to the touch the more it is used (the opposite of what happens with a varnished paddle). 

He enjoys the trip.  I suppose that I enjoy it as much as he does.  I invite him to go out next time he is back here, "...don't forget your paddle."

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