Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Meeting the Rule

This spring, while I was a resident artist at the Museum of Art and Design, I met L.  She liked one of the canoe paddles I had made and asked about buying it.  Unfortunately, it had not been in the water, and there is something wrong with a canoe paddle that goes to the wall without being dipped.  Something, some spirit is always missing in the unused paddle.  It is an mere object until it has performed the ritual.  But L exuded enthusiasm that always makes a good canoe partner, and she accepted the invitation.

L joined me today, taking the bow seat, taking the unused paddle that she had seen.  We put in at the edge of the big marsh at the mouth of the big river.  L dipped the paddle for the first time.  As we circled the marsh, moving through channels as the tide slowly dropped I watched L work the paddle.  I caught her pausing and staring at it.  I saw her check the blade for damage after she touched bottom.  The design on it is a map, and every so often I pointed out where we were - for we were somewhere on the paddle.

yellow crowned night heron
The birds came out more than ever today.  I have always thought that this marsh was overrated for its birdlife, but not today.  Tiny terns hovered and dove into the water whereever we went, osprey sailed past, we flushed black crowned and yellow crowned night herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, and glossy ibises.  Willets warned the marsh of our presence, blackbirds trilled and wrens did their bizapping call.  Swallows arced low in acrobatic diagrams designed by rather unfortunate bugs.

And finally, L melted into the canoe, and I closed my mouth and we drifted, and I let her alone to think or not think her own thoughts.

And then L discovered why I wanted to start a little bit sooner than we did.

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