Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The End of the World?

"When paddling down the stream of life
And your soulmate gives you flak,
Throw the darling overboard.
Sometimes it's good to swim in the stream of life for awhile,
You'll both feel better when you're back together, paddling!"

... now where did I find that quote?

Sunday, November 6, 2005

The World is New... continued

For some of the museum visitors, the memory of that boat would stick, and now and then it would come back and flitter about in their minds. There were people who headed out on the water to race their speedboats up and down the lakes and rivers. They would haul water-skiers or just tear around for the shear pleasure and thrill of it all. Nothing seemed to excite them like a boat wake peeling off behind a fast moving boat. Nothing like the way a boat would bank in a turn...

For others that qajaq memory would stick in a deeper place and wouldn’t go away. I like to think it was old Tomasi poking his hand drill at them like he often did that as he talked. Or maybe it was the way he would lick his boney fingers to moisten the caribou sinew lashing before easing it into a hole in the gunnel. Whatever magic was afoot, things happen. Like the time I was sitting on a dock with old friends, the conversation done, just relaxing, waiting for the sun to go down. Out of the corner of an eye I could see something moving. It was a boat, a kayak, rhythmically moving across the field of vision. Two images began to freeze together qajaq and kayak. Yes, a kayak. I could do that. Perfect.

Was it me or Tomasi who rented a kayak from the local shop? Who was it who found it a bit tippy, but not that bad. Before the day was done I knew I’d buy the boat. By evening I began thinking about paddling it to northern Quebec back to Nunavik. Tomasi was no longer there, but his children and grandchildren were. Wouldn’t they be surprised... Would they even care? Then it was on to build a traditional skin boat and I found Tomasi’s boat in Arima’s book. A circle complete!

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Greenland Kayakers

I did a balance brace in my sof boat last weekend for the first time thanks to two Greenland style paddlers living in Newport Vermont. Next step is doing rolls, all so easy now. Thanks guys!


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hi Windy!

Well, is this a go, or not?

Let Arnold know... He'll rise to the occasion, whichever!


The World is New, Again

Hi World!

Yes, the world is new again. The ckayaker club begins its new blog today! So enjoy.

Here is our first offering...


They’ve no brains, they’re nuts, anyway you put it old Tomasi had no idea why a person would want a kayak just to put in a building for people to look at. They didn’t even ask him to put a cover on. “Just the frame will be fine...”

Tomasi was inumariq, an elder in an Inuit village in northern Quebec, Nunavik. He was one of only a few who knew how to build a qajaq in the old way, carefully carved and lashed together with caribou sinew. In his youth, he was the one send inside the polar bear den to wake up the the bear so the others could kill it on its way out the tunnel entrance. I used to sit with him as he worked in the little room in the back of the fire-truck hut and try to understand his stories of the old days when magic was all around us. Long and narrow, running along the back of the building, the room’s best feature was the row of windows which ran the width of the building. The sunlight - when there was sunlight - would stream in setting the floor of yellow shavings all aglow. Outside, the windows looked over the bay where some white whales during late summer the year before. Now it was spring. The snow was starting to look old and dirty on the frozen sea ice. Inside, even without heat, the room as always warm and welcoming. Perhaps it was Tomasi’s old ways and laughing eyes that made it that way.

In any event, it was in this place that Tomasi made his last qajaq which, when it was done would travel south to a museum, farther away than any boat he had ever made before. It would be put in a book by E.Y. Arima. (Arima 1987, p226). People would come to the museum and whenever it got to be displayed, they would stare at it and wonder. Some would think of the people who used to live by qajait like these and depend on them or perhaps die in them. Some just thought about supper. Then they would get in their cars and trucks and head home to their real lives, working, studying, raising kids, being busy, busy busy.

...to be continued