Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shadows and aberrations in reality

"The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage; they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human."
-Victor Hugo 

Slamming doors as feet thumped quickly down creaking stairs. The smell of fear. Dried dead branches cracked as extended arms pushed forward through the evergreens. Crunching snow barely audible over heart beats; thoughts loudly telling them to get as far away as they could. The eerie quiet as D'Iberville's french troops scanned the hill lines. Blue tunics walking among the homes; still warm and smelling of cooked fish. The settlers had escaped the slaughter. Coming weeks hunger pains and cold would hurt in ways a french volley never could. Village razed. A long spring lay ahead.

 I obtained my marine forecast by clambering over rocks and cliffs until elevation provided my required vantage point of Trinity bay. I had landed on the NE side of New Perlican harbour shortly after launch to re adjust some internal stowage that was moving about; and decided to take a peek. Things looked good "outside" from here. Grasses pointed to my easiest route of travel. I took the lands suggestion. 

I pushed off from the shoreline.

Rebounding wind waves unable to be absorbed by the granite cliffs made for an enjoyable close shore paddle.Topography suggested little in the realm of landing opportunities; and afforded no pullout spots. The strong southern wind committed me once I rounded the point. A welcomed kind of commitment after such a long work week.

I discovered a respite among the cliffs of New Perlican head. An abberation that didnt appear on my topographical map. Nothing more than a shadow on google earth; yet here lay a 75m long channel which seemed to be in constant twilight even during the midday sun. 

Black against an aqua green palate; a codfish swam atop the water. A child like need to poke things with a stick; I lightly poked it's dorsil fin with my paddle causing the fish to slowly swim to the bottom momentarly. Appearing to the surface again it was clear he was in the last moments of life. A bald eagle circled near by. A beautiful cicle.

A low tide beach pitched high as even minimal swell pushed strong waves here onto the cobblestones.Thousands of rounded rocks roaring in the tumble of water. Nostalgia doesnt exist here. The past cannot cross your mind as you climb a ancient cliff to get a differnt view of your surroundings. And nothing could be better than this moment. This is why I paddle.

Thousands of little hands grasped at the air. The huge starfish dislodged from the cliff walls and into the powerful water. Destiny tossed him upon the beach upside down next to my kayak. I placed him on my paddle to record him, to validate in some way his plight and unexpected rescue. His second lease on life; I tossed him back into the channel. I wondered if his mind could comprehend what had just occurred.

 A surf launch and my poor attempt to quickly put on my skirt... tested my gussler foot pump for the first time. Stretching my short legs that extra inch to pump gysers of water out of my kayak; bobbing in the rythm of the cove. Kayak dry again; off I went to Turks cove; just around the next point.

 Turks cove was even smaller than it appeared on the map. Two visable houses along the yellowed autumn grass. A small wharf and stage the only signs of life on the beach. Poverty had prevented the people of this tiny outport the ability to move into newer upgrades in the fishery. Up until 1972 when the fishery ended here the fishery was still being done much the same it had been since the 16th century. I landed next to a babbling brook that runs across the beach to meet the sea.

Checking my cell service I soon found I wasnt going to make a call for pick up here. While I could go bother someone in their oceanfront homes; I decided that the Sugar loaf mountain which seemed to raise up out of the sea would be a nice way to end the day. The next community over had a few stores where I could call from to get pickup. Measuring distance on my map with my thumb; raising fingers to the horision to check the lasting light... I launched.

No pictures exists of the Sugar loaf or of the paddle around this headland.

 I began singing Simon and Garfunkel as the waves grew and grew.  A different; but real nervous reaction of mine. The next leg was not a paddle as much as being pushed and thrown by the ocean. Surfing I ruddered and braced for the 5 km trip.The sky turned dark. Knocked over once by the onslaught of black waves contrasted by foaming white tops." Hello darkness my old friend". Waves broke pushed forward past my kayak as the wind dispersed the areated foam into the air. Tight grip on my paddle I was knocked over as I went to brace over a cresting wave...... and found no water. "I've come to talk to you again". "Shuuuuppppp..." the sound of the water entering my ears. A reach out to grasp a wisp of liquid had only concreted my submergence. A fast decent, slowed and stopped as I entered the brine. Back upright. Rudder, paddle hard, rudder, paddle harder. All I could concerate on was wave after wave of blackness. Half my new Werner paddle was missing. A quick look around for the black paddle proved fruitless. Material things on a sea of reality. Paddle harder; rudder.

Sheltered. The north facing harbour of Winterton was dead calm aside my my exuberant "Waaaaahhhhoooo!" as I rounded the Sugarloaf. I pulled into the government wharf and took off my drysuit (as to not look like a 3 apples tall superhero walking up the road in this tiny outport). A quick call for pick up at the gas station I walked back to my kayak picking up plastic and glass bottles as I went. I concluded my day huddled up behind a rock wall drinking coffee; watching the sun explode across the darkened sky. 

The sea may make one savage in ways.
 Is savage worse than "civilized"?


  1. Good one today Gilly. Thanks

  2. Your words offer much to reflect on, Lee.

    "The past cannot cross your mind as you climb a ancient cliff to get a different view of your surroundings." Ah yes, the almost magical reward of being "present".

    Did the starfish comprehend his rescue? I wonder about these things too. I would have (and have) responded to his plight in the same way, content that I may have extended a life, if not saved it. And there's more: A starfish that, perhaps, no human eyes would have ever seen achieves a kind of "immortality" through a photographic image. Is this not a celebration of life? I think so.

    I would say that "the mountains, the forest, and the sea" reveal to us our willingness and our courage to be fully human. If that is to be savage, I am content with that.

    A meaning-filled post. Thank you for that, Lee. Duncan.

  3. Cheer's Troy. thanks for the comment buddy.

    I'm glad I conveyed it well enough Duncan! Fingers grasped into rock nostalgia just doesnt exist. I think you may be right on the celebration of life; Maybe every photo is....thanks for the insight brother!

    I am content as well!

    I am