Thursday, January 31, 2008

Banff Mountain Film Festival 2008

After a morning of driving rain then falling temperatures, I ventured out into a wicked evening of blowing snow and icy roads, to attend the local showing in the Banff Mountain Film Festival. I try to go each year and I was hoping to see Pacific Horizons, the seakayaking film made by Bryan Smith and partner Lise-Anne Beyries on Canada's west coast. Alas, it wasn't chosen for the tour, although it was a finalist at the festival itself. I'll have to break down and buy it, I guess...

What I did get to see was good, if somewhat repetitive. There was the usual helicopter skiing down precipitous slopes, whitewater kayakers plunging over waterfalls and through narrow rocky shoots, not to mention people hanging off cliffs by their fingernails all the while laughing at death. I can enjoy this type of thing, but don't really need a night of it. I like variety and some creativity mixed with my adventures films.

To my thinking, the best film of the evening was one called Trail and Error, about Ryan Leech's ramp bike trail through a threatened temperate rainforest. This was delicate mountain bike riding at it's best. The trail he's constructed has yet to be run successfully by anyone other than him. I guess he's the only person with a sufficient trial and error time on it to deal with it's intricacies!

The main feature - the longest film shown and the person jumping in the top photo - was an account of Norway's BASE jumper Karina Hollekim. Introduced to jumping off high cliffs in free-fall for several seconds before popping her canopy in her early 20's, she continued to jump for several years until the inevitable accident occurred which left her unable to walk.

During the film she talked at length about her sport and her need to push the envelope farther and farther to maintain the thrill it gave her.

Pushing our thrills, perhaps not to the same dangerous extremes, seems to be part of life for many of us. Let's face it, some days feeling that adrenalin surge is what can make a kayaking outing worth the effort. Karina lived for that rush and knew it wasn't going to last. I was impressed with how well she had learned to deal with the heady drug of publicity when her exploits become well known. How people handle that or not can sometimes cause problems for them, hampering their futures as much as breaking her legs on impact did for Karina. It's an interesting world out there though it's clear we must keep our wits together if we wish our passage through it to be filled with good experiences.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yoga? Me?

Me? Well, I... Kayaking and yoga exercises have become fellow travellers for a while now, but I have not taken part. I have no idea why. I know two excellent Greenland style paddlers who give a yoga session to people about to head out paddling, but for some reason I've never attended their early morning exercises. I have absolutely no idea why I don't go other than pure laziness. I think that's going to change. It might do something for those muscles that ache at me at the end of the day.

You might say I'm slowly becoming 'enlightened'...

Photo credit: Northern Edge Algonquin

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Need Some Kindling? has begun marketing a new device which allows a kayaker to potentially take tons of reading material along on paddling trips. One simply downloads whatever books you feel like reading from the Amazon site, pack your 'Kindle Reader' in a drybag and, voila, you're set for all those nasty days when you can't get out on the water!

Or are you? Looking over some of the comments on Wikipedia and elsewhere, I think the savy paddler could do much better. For example, I carry an aging Palm PDA on which I keep several 'ebooks' ready to read. But there's more! I used it to take photos of my recent car crash site which I sent off to the insurance company. They clearly showed the other driver to be at fault. I keep a complete set of tide tables for the east coast of North America as well as some topo maps of areas I paddle in (these are too small to navigate with, but would be helpful in an emergency). I keep a list of contacts, a trip diary and... well, the list goes on and on. The point being that a PDA is far more functional than the 'Kindle' at this point if you're looking for some easy-to-pack books. If you need kindling, take a stroll along the beach!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hey, Coach!

As a former school teacher one might think I'd be a natural to teach people kayaking skills. I don't think so! There are a number of reasons why this is so. Firstly, I have no certification to paddle, let alone teach paddling skills. I consider myself a self-taught intermediate paddler who relies more on good risk management abilities than solid paddling skills. If it looks iffy, I stay on the beach!

But what about teaching intermediate skills, things like rescues, basic rolls, safety gear, navigation skills and so on? Again I'm trained like many of you, but not certified. Lots of folks are ACA and/or BCU certified and they don't seem to be in short supply at the various kayaking events I've attended. I'm happy to let them do the job. The ones I've worked with have all been helpful.

Well, what about teaching people how to go on paddling trips? It's true I've done some wilderness paddling and more recently a fair amount of car-top kayaking trips. This area might be one I'd feel comfortable talking about, but here again, most people have their own ideas about how they like to travel by kayak. It isn't really rocket science. You pack what you think you'll need, you travel to the launch site and off you go. Then you learn. There'll be things you forgot at home or don't even own you'll want to bring along next time and other things you find you never used and can't believe you bothered bringing. Your next outing will be trimmer and sleeker.

So you won't find me as a coach at your next paddling event. I'm more likely to be found in the class of splashers and bashers, trying to rescue myself! That said, however, I firmly believe we are all teachers and learners. We all have things to share and learn and it's important to do both. If you're just there only because you're the 'expert' or the 'beginner' you're mistaken. You must always be both. You can never learn it all and you're never too innocent to help someone else!

Photo credit: Val Rice

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kayaking? What's Kayaking?

Kayaking? I never mentioned kayaking... When the snow's this fresh, this white and sparkly, the day this blue, the dog this keen, who's thinking about kayaking!

Willow, Moss's younger sister, now nine months old and eager to run wherever!

Tracks by the hay bail on the way back home for hot chocolate.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Paddling 'Round the Sun

I enjoy the art of writing. When I taught children, one of the best activities we did was write. Every day we would take time to put our thoughts down on paper. Writing this blog and my companion blog Ctories has been a very natural progression for me now that I no longer have a class of children to spur me on. It's one of the reasons why I post something nearly every day.

When I look back over the past year of writing, it serves to help me recall all the pleasures - both direct and indirect - that I have had being a blogger. For example, a year ago I was about to head off to Florida to paddle in places both known and unknown to me. It marked the beginning of my experiments using deck mounted video cameras to record the experience. On the return trip home, I stopped in and visited a number of fellow bloggers and kayakers, all of whom I now count as friends.

My blog then recorded my wonderful trip to Newfoundland last summer where I paddled on every coast and met some wonderful people, some of whom are also bloggers and kayakers: again more good friends. While there, I continued my video experiments and believe I made some improvements in composition and technique, especially in creating the Sailor's Island videos.

This past fall I recorded my impressions of paddling for 100 days in a row, every possible day. Again an interesting experience, the effects of which are still fresh. The paddler's retreat called Delmarva was another opportunity to meet friends new and old. I was glad to have the chance to chat with Freya Hoffmeister and wish her well in person on her round-about New Zealand adventure, now successfully completed. I witnessed a 'qajaq wedding' and filmed an interview with Adam Hansen, who is trying to make his career as a kayak guide in Aassiat, Greenland.

So, it's been a wonderful, fulfilling year, a paddle 'round the sun, one might call it. I couldn't have asked for a better trip! I feel very lucky to be celebrating my birthday today knowing that a new solar circumnavigation lies ahead. What will I be able to do to match the one just past? I can't wait to find out!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Kayaker's Way

The other day I wrote about the two sided brain and why, as kayakers, this conceptual model can be useful in learning new skills or addressing one's fears in doing new things. There is a companion set of ideas found in a book called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. While there are some parts of this book I don't agree with, it is useful if you're having problems getting up off your couch and heading out on that great paddling trip you always said you'd go on. In other words, it's a guide to unblocking the fears that keep most of us at home, safely hiding behind our comfort curtains, making up excuse after excuse for ourselves.

Going out on a paddling trip, whether it lasts only a few hours or stretches into an expedition style voyage of several months, can be daunting. How do some people get out there? How do they make their escape from the 'ties that bind'? Julia Cameron's premise is that life is a creative voyage which takes courage and sensitivity to do well. The more we understand the mechanisms at work, especially the ones operating inside our heads, the more successful we'll be, first in getting out there, then enjoying our time on the water and finally coming home to share it with others, be it on a blog, in a book or over a meal at the dinner table. Recommended reading for a winter's day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Birthday Paddling

You Know what?

I miss kayaking already. I haven't been out paddling for a week or so now, the longest paddling break I've had since last August. The lake is frozen tight for the winter and while I really like skiing, it just isn't kayaking. I suspect my long paddling session last fall has ruined me a bit for skiing without getting out paddling as well.

You Know what?

I'm thinking of heading south again with my kayak and going paddling. It won't be skiing, but if the past winter paddling trips were any indication, I will really enjoy going paddling in the warm, sunny south once again.

You Know what?

I have a winter birthday, but have never paddled on that day. It's probably too late for this year, but one of these years, I'm going to change that. I'm going to join up with some other paddlers and go some place sunny and warm and birthday party paddle for a month or so. Then I might come home and blog all about it. And maybe I'll go skiing if there's any snow left...

You Know what?

Doesn't that sound like fun?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Kayaking on the Right Side of the Brain

A book by Betty Edwards' called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain changed many things for me when I discovered that the little voice in my head coming from my brain's left side was actually a controlling demon telling me all the things I couldn't do. I'm sure you've heard it too! It's also at work when we paddle, telling us the boat is too tippy, the waves too big, and roll too difficult, the headland too far...

This past October Dubside put up a nylon belt a few feet off the ground during the Delmarva Retreat and many of us tried to walk along its length. We talked about why our legs went into a sideways shaking movement whenever we got on to make the attempt to walk it. He pointed out it was just a natural feedback loop working in our brain. If a person focused, he or she could stop the looping action and successfully walk along the belt. It was exactly like dealing with that little voice on the left side of my brain! What I needed to do was to shut the voice off and focus on breaking that shaking feedback loop action going on in my head. It was another example of the struggle between both halves of my brain.

Kayaking has many of these little feedback loops in it. The trick is usually to deal with the little voice, focus and keep moving!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Solid State Kayaking

Most people are familiar with kayaking in the summer when water is in its liquid state , but how many of you are familiar with winter's 'solid state' version? Here are a few photos taken this morning which illustrate the main differences and similarities for the un-initiated. Pay close attention and you too will soon be enjoying this new form of paddling!

One of the first things to recognize is the wake of a solid-state kayaker. In the photo on the left, you can see the wake of the typical twin hull design as it progresses through solid-state water. On either side of the hull are the paddle swirls which also show the clean entry and exit impressions, the sign of a good paddler.

In this next shot, the hull wake is still clearly evident long after the paddler has passed by. Note how this paddler has mastered the difficult standing paddling position, which can be so tricky in the liquid state, yet, in winter, is easily accomplished. Here, the paddler, seen in the distance, has just crested a large solid state swell and is about to surf down its face! Another paddler has just curled off the wave to the right, no doubt to set up for another wave coming in behind the photographer.

This paddler - my daughter, actually and an solid state excellent paddler - has just recovered from a roll. You can see she has attracted the attention of two solid state water animals which are licking barnacles off her hull and one of her paddles. These animals will play along side one's boat for hours in the wintertime providing the paddler with loads of fun and enjoyment.

In this final photo, one can see a coastal scene full of typical solid state tree-stacks, and a solid state surf tossed tree-garden (note: a helmet is recommended in these experts only conditions!). This is just one of the many coastal features which make solid-state kayaking so much fun during the winter months.

If you get the chance, get out there for a winter paddle!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kangirsuk HBC

'Here Before Christ' was the saying in the old days when the letters for the Hudson's Bay Company - HBC - were displayed. In a way it was true. The old company of adventurers trading into Hudson's Bay was formed in 1670 and often their traders arrived long before the missionaries. The white buildings with red roofs in the foreground were typical of the HBC trading posts found all over the Canadian north. Most of the buildings were built first to carry out the trade or to house the trader. As time went by, new buildings were built as stores or homes. The old buildings were then converted into warehouses or torn down.

In Kangirsuk, the manager's house is hidden behind the large building on the far left, which had become a warehouse. The store was the next building to the right. The remaining buildings towards the right were all serving as warehouses in the 1970's.

Today, many of these old buildings have disappeared. The old HBC post evolved into the Northern Store and of course, it was in yet another building built in the same area. The spot where I stood to take the photo was empty back then, often visited by arctic hares and ptarmigan. Today it is full of streets and houses! The town has grown a lot since my time when everyone lived across the bay in the background.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kangirsuk, 1970

If you were to go back in time to the early 1970's, your aircraft would have two possible landing areas. The easiest was on the river ice directly off the village. The other was up the hill on the frozen lake. In the pictures here, the river option was made impossible due to the very rough ice surface. On years when this happened all aircraft were forced to use the lake above the village where the ice usually froze smoothly.

Coming down the hill, your first view of Kangirsuk was the 'garage' area, the power-house for the diesel-electric generators, and the Hudson's Bay Company store and warehouses on the west side of the little bay, the kangirsuk in Inuktitut. Once down at the bay, you came to the road leading past the school and the teachers' residences, the post office, the provincial school, nursing station, the Coop store and then the village itself. Continuing through the village would bring you to the oil storage tanks at the end of the street.

Roughly 200 people lived there at that time. It was a very self-contained community with little outside travel. Trips were made north to Koartaq now and then, but the village of Aupaluk to the south had not be created, although it's possibility was being discussed by some people.

Note: Click on the photos to enlarge them. The photos are actually 5 pans from west to east, the first pair being extreme west views, to the last, which shows the extreme east view.

Around the Western Rock

Ken Campbell, who wrote about his paddling trip circumnavigating Newfoundland eight years ago in a book called Around the Rock, is about to repeat the trip, this time out west. He's setting out to do a winter solo voyage around Canada's other rock in the sea: Vancouver Island. If he makes it around, he figures it will be the first time it's been done in the winter months. Let's all wish him the best! I've added a link to his blog on my Expedition section in the right sidebar.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tracks in the Snow

When kayaking we seldom see the traces of passage made by others. Only campsites may show traces and these seldom provide much useful information about where you are or how to get back home if you're lost. Seeing tracks in the arctic snows however are much more revealing. Years ago, when one encountered sled tracks, especially after days or weeks of travel it was an occasion for great joy. Finally you'd again be back in the company of people!

The tracks in the photo above were made by snowmobiles heading from Kangirsuk up to Post Lake. Perhaps the people had gone up to meet a plane or to get some fresh water for home use. A small hut was placed on the lake each year over a hole cut in the ice. Water could be had during the winter by filling a drum on your sled and heading back to the village.

There were times in the winter when it was easy to get lost in the maze of hills or in the clouds of blowing snow. Coming across tracks would sometimes provide you with a pathway home if you knew how to read the clues.

Tomorrow we'll go down the hill and have a look at the village as it was in the early 1970's.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kangirsuk, Nunavik

I flew into the northern Québec Inuit village of Kangirsuk in the summer of 1971 to be one of the town's two teachers. It was my first teaching job and I was anxious to make a good impression. The plane that brought me was an Otter, much like the one in the above. I arrived during the summer so the 'ski-wheels' you see the plane equipped with here had been replaced with floats enabling it to land in the water. The terrain around Kangirsuk was pretty rugged and no landing strip had been built. Planes were forced to land on the lake above the town or on the river in front. Houses had only been built in the few years previous to my arrival and the school was relatively new as well.

The Otter aircraft was one of the 'work-horses' of the north. As most communities had no road access to southern Canada, these aircraft, along with the smaller Beaver and the Norseman were the sole means of travel, especially in the winter when ice blocked most sea routes. The Otter here has just dumped off the week's mail and other supplies and is about to take off again from the small lake above the village we called Post Lake. Today, a modern airport is located nearby with regularly scheduled flights. There's a huge picture of men in traditional kayaks just off the village on the wall in the airport, a tribute to traveling in the old days.

I was to travel in these small planes a lot during those years, including a forced landing when the pilot feared the engine was misbehaving. We ditched on a small lake and then found it was going to be a problem taking off. Fortunately we did manage it, but the pilot and I nervously watched the rocks in the shallows along the shore, expecting them to rip off the floats...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Live to Paddle or Paddle to Live?

Ever since I walked into an outdoor shop in 1997 and impulsively bought a sea kayak, I've been hooked. Paddling this boat to Igloolik in Canada's north a year later solidified the link between me and my kayak. One might say I now "paddle to live". It has become a large part of my life and gives me tremendous satisfaction when I'm out there on the water. It's changed who I am, by changing what I do.

Yet, I know there is more. I could be 'living to paddle'. What's the difference, you might ask? Well, for me, 'paddling to live' means that paddling is an addition to all the other things I like to do. It's a big addition, but my life is not driven by having to paddle. I count the costs carefully when deciding whether to paddle or do something else, especially with family or friends.

'Living to paddle', on the other hand, is to let paddling drive your life completely. It means you are prepared to do anything to satisfy your urge to paddle no matter what the costs to your home life or the needs of others. It's an extension of Ayn Rand's philosophy where you are the center of the universe, where you must live for yourself, or your life will be wasted. Worrying about others is a useless activity for which you'll get no thanks or satisfaction. After all, they should be worrying about themselves like you do. Don't tell others what to do, it is self-defeating and won't really help them...

I will do almost anything to get out paddling when I get the urge to go, but it isn't the first thing in my life. I try to steer clear of Ayn Rand style 'live to paddle' kayakers. I get chills wondering what they will do when the going gets rough. Can I depend on their help? Or am I on my own?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Here Comes the Sun!

I have recently begun another attack on my boxes of unsorted slides from northern Canada. Last year I had a go at the bunch I took in the Igloolik area of Nunavut. Now I'm scanning another bunch, this time from Nunavik, which is in northern Québec. I was there teaching for four years during the early 1970's and it's an area I'd return to more often if it wasn't cheaper to fly to New Zealand - another truly Canadian bit of humour, I suppose, where the antipodes is closer than your neighbour!

This first picture, taken on the hill behind Kangirsuk about this time of year looks up the river where we would go fishing during the winter. At that time, most people depended on this fishing trip to provide most of our food supply. We would have fish often for all three meals of the day. Good thing I like fish!

In the summer we'd go up river by canoe, but in the winter, it was by skidoo, trailing a long wooden komatik to carry our supplies and on the return trip to bring back the catch of fish. These were caught in gill nets set under the ice and checked every few days. We also caught fish the old way using a fish harpoon called a kukivuk. This device speared the fish and had two clasping prongs which held the fish on until it was withdrawn from the water and secured. In the winter, the fish would freeze in a few minutes.

In the picture, the sun has begun climbing again into the sky after sneaking about the horizon all of December. Unlike Igloolik, in northern Québec the sun wouldn't completely disappear in the winter.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Shut Out! Again...

It was a glorious, sunny day. We took the dogs for a walk up on the hills where we'd skied recently. Warm weather and rain earlier in the week had put an end to the snow. In the afternoon I headed down to the lake for a paddle, confident the same weather which had so quickly nixed the snow had also got rid of the ice. It was not to be.

I paddled out onto the lake and before long was up against the ice barrier again. This time it was razor thin skim ice. I could break it easily with my paddle, which I did for a ways. In the end it was too slow going and again I feared for my gelcoat. At one point I considered doing a wet-exit and swimming the boat through the ice. It was that easy to break. Then it occurred to me that all the strollers and dog-walkers would see me out in the icy water, floundering about and I'd have the rescue people out for no good reason. My drysuit might get a few cuts in it as well...

I headed back to the river, swollen with melt water and full of ducks. I tried to get some pictures of this pair of Hooded Mergansers swimming with some mallards, but they were very skittish and only distant shots were possible. I headed home. Thursday looks like the next good day. Sunny and mild is the forecast...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reading Like a Goldfish

Somewhere along the way my little family of four began telling a story about the short-term memory of a typical goldfish. In the story, the fish lives in a bowl together with a little castle. As the fish swims round and round the bowl, it repetitively discovers the castle and joyously remarks, "Oh! Look, a castle!". Recently, the story has begun to take on a more sinister edge. I'm re-reading Paul Theroux's travel book, The Happy Isles of Oceania after many years and while it's vaguely familiar, most of it, like the little castle, seems to be completely new and fresh to me...

While Theroux carries with him and actually paddles a small folding boat from time to time, the book's real interest for me are his comments about the people he encounters on the various islands. He was hoping to find living chunks of a sea-faring culture scattered through the islands. After all, were these islands not first discovered and settled by people who covered vaste distances in small open canoes and did these people not use the sea to sustain themselves for a 1000 years or more?

Instead, he discovered islands full of people who, for the most part, had turned their backs on the sea. Most were terrified even of taking a ferry to a nearby island and cautioned him not to paddle his kayak beyond the reefs. Even fewer ventured out fishing. So what happened? Theroux has some opinions on the subject, but it made me think about Inuit culture, what it's become and where it's going. I know people who are concerned with language loss and other rapidly disappearing cultural attributes, but I wonder if enough people care enough to rescue what's left. I hope so. Theroux's book has me scared a bit.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Time Paddling

Paddling every day for 100 days as many days as possible back-to-back was a challenge much like being on a expedition-style paddling trip. Time was a big factor. It was really a trip through time as much as it was a journey from one place to another. This was even more true for me as I was paddling for the most part on a small lake and not along an ever-changing coastline. For me, it meant that more than anything it was the seasons that changed and not the headlands.

I began on August 28th and paddled for the 100th day on December 27th, 122 days later. The weather varied from 33°C in Delaware to -6°C here on Lake Massawippi. I didn't keep an accurate account of my mileage each day, but my estimated daily distance paddled suggests I had put about 800 kms under the keel at the end. Had I been going from home to Florida, for example, by simply doubling my daily distance paddled to 16 kms a day, I could easily have made it to the sunny south in time for the winter paddling season! Now that's interesting, isn't it...

Time entered in another way. As the months went by, the lake changed from warm summer sun to the cold cloudier days of fall (December was completely cloudy and mostly below freezing!). The trees went from green to reds and golds. The leaves then disappeared and the hills became black and brown. Finally, the hills turned white with snow. At first I saw few animals, but as cottages closed for the season, more and more I saw deer and birds of prey. During the migration season, ducks and geese appeared, stayed for a few weeks then moved on. Time changing a place, rather than changing where I paddled.

If you are able to manipulate time in your favour, it's a worthwhile challenge!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Moraito Passion and Action

Moraito Chico by Daniel Muñoz

Go through your list of kayaking friends and many of them will tell you about their passion for the sport and it's action. Many are photograpers as well as paddlers. Most will be happy to get out their photos for you to see what they're talking about. So it should be! Kayaking is a sport with plenty of action with many passionate paddlers who are enthusiatic photographers.

Passion and action can be had in other genres as well. The photo above of my favourite flamenco guitarist, Moraito Chico, is one of a series of 42 photos taken during 2007 and posted in a slideshow on the Flamenco World site. It's a place I often go to to worship. If you are a photographer seeking to put some action and passion into your paddling pictures, check out this slideshow. I'll refund your money if you don't agree they're incredible!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Life Beyond My Back Door

City life has its benefits I suppose, but if you live like I do, nothing beats the life just beyond my back door. Here's an example of what I mean. A few minutes from the door handle itself, you can enter this path into the sugar woods it leads to. On a day like last Friday, it's hard to beat, especially when the lakes are solid and the temperatures drop...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hunting Kayaks

One of the treats of the December holiday season is the hunt for a suitable feast item. Traditionally, when I was growing up, this had meant shopping for a turkey at the supermarket. Now that we're so much better informed, the hunt has new parameters, in particular, finding a bird which has not spent its life in a cage, not been fed a diet of food laced with various 'enhancing' chemicals and so on. For the past few years, we have made arrangements to get our turkeys from a farmer who raises birds in as natural a setting as possible, outside, eating chemical-free food. Of course, his operation has been attacked and fined by controlling government agencies for his trouble and intelligence, but thankfully, he persists, encouraged by people like ourselves.

In recent years, global warming has brought a new option to our doorsteps. In the pictures above, you can see these new immigrants casually browsing on the bushes at the foot of our front lawn: wild turkeys! At this point, we're not allowed to harvest these delicious looking birds, but things happen, don't they?

When our children were small we raised two domestic turkeys each year. When one of them chased our teen-aged baby-sitter into the house, we began to think raising big birds might be dangerous for our children so we began the arrangements I spoke of earlier. Now we have grown up children and wild turkeys strutting about the place, we find our horses being threatened! They've broken out twice in recent weeks, scared to death of these marauding fowl. I'm beginning to think self preservation could easily put a couple of birds on our table next year.

If you're wondering what any of this has to do with kayaking, well, keep in mind that kayaks are really hunting craft...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Time For A New Book...

The Holiday Season was a bit like 'A Tale of Two Cities': 'There were the Best of Times and the Worst of Times'. It's probably a 'Far, Far Better Thing' that it's over and I can look forward to moving on into 2008.

On the Best side of the ledger were times spent with friends and relatives, many whom I haven't seen for a while. We also met new friends, several from China, guests of our son and his cousin who had spent much of 2007 in Singapore and other parts of the Far East. I marvelled each time I sat at the dinner table at our ever shrinking world. Young people now live in what has truly become a 'global village'. It bodes well for a better world, I'm sure!

I paddled for the 100th day on Dec 27th, four days before the year ended, thus successfully completing the challenge I set myself on August 28th. Some warm rain and strong winds broke up the ice barrier and allowed me out onto the lake for this last paddle. I met up with a fisher, a small otter-like animal I'd never seen before on the lake and my bald eagle got down-right friendly and flew out to greet me! It was a memorable paddle. Today, the lake is mostly frozen over save for a patch about mid-way down, inaccessible to all but the ducks.

Sadly, as I paddled that day, my wife's last surviving uncle died. He was 83, a marvelous man, the father of three talented children. His funeral reminded us all of the need to be together more, to laugh often, to live fully and to pass along a spirit like his to our children.

The following day, my car was hit by an inattentive driver who failed to negotiate a curve. The resulting crash put both our cars out of commission, but thankfully no one was injured including my 91 year old mother who I was taking to town.

I'm ready to finish this 'book' and read something a bit lighter and more adventurous! Skiing anyone? Snowshoeing? Warm water paddling...?