Monday, November 28, 2011

Cola cove: A weekend in Mount Eagle bay

It's been a rough week. With my kayak transporter still in the shop, I was grounded. Friday marked the longest time I had been off the brine in two years; and it was really getting me down. Rental companies don't hand out cars with kayak roof racks unfortunately. A whole week without my passion, I was beyond ready to relinquish suburbia and get back to real life.

Coffee steaming early Saturday morning.  Strong smell of burning wood and slight smell of oil in my fathers garage. My Avocet would be a good surrogate for my Legend. A worthy catalysis for relaxation.

Mermaid purses covered the beach. Ensconced in beds of kelp torn from the ocean from the relentless gale force winds and surf we've had over the past month. All however showed signs of the skates exit from it;s cocoon; a welcomed sign of a healthy population. The winds and my overall exhaustion from a formitable week contained me to Mount Eagle bay. I took pleasure in the warm containment of exhaustion and mother nature as I launched from Gilbert's beach.

  A simple thing like walking on a beach many people take for granted. For the past 2 years walking has been a challenge to me. Following my oldest son and my father to the beach last year; my ankle blew out twice before I sat on the beach letting them carry on. It was beyond  frustrating. 29 years old and I couldn't even manage to walk. With the use of a brace I've gained a lot of mobility back. I no longer cringe every step and no longer have to pop my ankle back in place while puking. While still watching my step I now enjoy every second. One injury had taken this amazing ability away from me before; I wouldn't take something so wonderful for granted again.

Bottles unfortunately covered the small coves as I paddled along. Soon spotting and removing the bottles became a game. Every cove held a multitude among the driftwood. The high tide reach decorated in a twisted collage of seaweed, bleached twisted wood, and trash. I stopped at each cove and scowered the beach slowly. Relaxing, enjoying life and giving back; by packing the garbage out.

A bottle jammed among a rocky shoreline....what better place to practice!!  Spotting each bottle I jumped out of my kayak and swam ashore; kayak in tow. Bottles providing an obtainable goal; a spot to attempt to land. Practice in rough landings at unknown intervals to keep me honest; where I would normally pick the "best"area to practice swimming ashore I now had something to simulate a "no decision but to land " location. The water cold even through my thermal layers as I swam, practiced and collected.

Exhausted from multiple swims and cold; the "beach clean up" turned into a challenge to look closely and focus on the moment. Catching my breath and drinking warm gatoraide to stave off the cold I took time to appreciate the jewels of fragile life around me. Small glimpses of beauty washed upon the shore. A symbol of everything I love among signs of everything I despise.

5 coves, 8 swims to rocky outcrops.....and a little swell to play in. Re balanced I headed home landing just after sunset. Lifting my kayak full to the brim with plastic bottles upon my shoulder; to a soundtrack of crashing waves. -5 celcius my breath trailed my slow walk up the beach.

Finally a good exhaustion to sleep in.

Sunday brought the idea to involve my family in the clean up; and make it fun. My oldest decided he would bring his little Arctic Cat to help haul the garbage off the beach in front of our house. One large garbage bag quickly filled from an unfortunately abundant supply of discarded drink containers. We decided to head to another beach in our bay to do what else we could.

Every boulder became a mountain to climb. My oldest scouted for bottles from each large rock he found. A quick addition of Newfoundland language turned into a cultural addition to boot. I posed the question of Arn? (Newfoundlander for "do you have any") as he scouted ahead. Responses carried on the strong wind was a resounding "Narn" ("No I got nothing") or "YES OVEEEERRR DEEEEEAAAAARRRRR DADDYYY!!" Little legs moving as fast as they could over the bolder strewn beach. Many times distracted by a stick or a trip and tumble. Another full garbage bag we returned home climbing any cliff or large boulder we could find.

 A couple km's under our belt and a great day outside. Fresh awake from his nap my youngest even found employment in our operations washing center. As enthusiastic as his older brother had been in his part....and maybe a little more wet!

While cleaning our bottles mom found something we had overlooked in our fun. Another message in a bottle! My son was ecstatic! With a little encouragement from me he was flat out over hyper and over the moon! Tomorrow Caleb will contact Josh to discuss where the bottle was found. What a excellent find for a 5 year old to cap off a great day!

A simple plastic bottle. A kayak training tool, a free currency, a vessel for a message. And most importantly a way to instill a love for the outdoor in my boys. 4 bags of bottles mark two weeks of occasionally cleaning up a random beach. A small dent in the constant garbage finding it's ways to the truly wild places still left in this province. My small part may not ever amount to the saving of these places. However I hope the eyes of my two boys looking for purpose in this world we live; will remember 4 mere bags as something much bigger. 

And maybe just maybe the answers are within them.


  1. Instill a love of the outdoors in your lads, Lee, and you'll provide them with a "purpose" that will last a lifetime. But I think you already knew that. :) Really nice post. Duncan.

  2. welcome back after the bitter story


  3. Thanks Duncan. I hope they take on the purpose of being stewards to the environment. I wish I took that route many years ago myself...the world seemed too big back then to me that pollution seemed like a "outside" problem I guess.

    Cheer's Gio I've been kayaking much less which has been a huge adjustment....but man am I ever excited for tomorrow!!!