Thursday, April 4, 2013

Salt on the Lips

It is a sunny day with a quartering onshore wind that comes unobstructed across a dozen miles of water from the thin shadow on the horizon that is Long Island.  The gulls, mostly herring and ringbills, are onshore at the edge of the ebbing tide picking newly hatched sea bugs from the rocks.  Only the tiny bonaparte gulls seem interested in floating, and they pick the same critters from the water's surface in repetitious stabs of their bills.

As I paddle, I watch for the oncoming light green shadow beneath the surface.  It signals the man-made groins that lay every couple hundred yards, fingers of boulders laid down to control erosion.  In the low tide, the bottom is visible a fair distance out from land.

While two thirds of the way across the shallow bay where Calf Pen Creek empties, the waves begin to tip white at the tops.  The wind is increasing and if anything, it will increase more.  It is time to decide whether to continue along and walk home, or to turn back.  I reverse my path and the view changes more than I expect, the sun now to my right and ahead of me and the water taking a darker hue with the high contrast of reflections from the waves.

A steep sided wave slaps the canoe and I taste a delicious salt on my lips, the sense of taste being added to the experience and catching me unprepared.  A second slap wets my backpack, and a third my lap.  But, these waves aren't worrisome, yet.  I see it as the sea doing what the sea does.  It is live water, vigorous and energetic, and the human soul borrows strength from reality of not being the master.

I turn the last vague point, more of a bend to be honest.  The waves now follow, two foot high and regular.  The uninitiated might imagine the canoe speeding along with the waves, but this is not what canoes do.  Canoes, in following seas, rise as each wave comes, and wallow soft and sluggish in the trough.

I pass through a small flock of small bonaparte gulls picking sea things from the water.

1 comment:

Randall Mikkelsen said...

Beautiful warm light this morning, even if the air was chilly and blustery. From the train I saw a heron on a mudflat and osprey (?) on the nesting platforms.