Saturday, April 25, 2009

Surface tension and a "Sargasso Sea"...

How often nature reveals meaning in life..or is it that life reveals meaning in nature? Or is it that life and nature simply and profoundly complement each other! Ah yes, that must be it!

Anyway, this was a great paddling day down Sansum Narrows, between Saltspring and Vancouver Islands. Just across from Bold Bluff Point, wind and tide had conspired to bring what seemed to be every scrap of floating vegetation in the narrows into one rocky cove. Completely unable to resist paddling in this imaginary "Sargasso Sea", I pointed my kayak toward what some natural gourmands might consider a floating "salad bar" - organic and sustainable to boot! Building up as much forward momentum as possible - "bookin' speed", so to speak - paddler and craft sliced into the biomass of brightly coloured marine vegetation. This, I figured, could be quite productive! Hey, sea lettuce does sound tasty and they do put sea weed in ice cream - albeit under the less than appetizing sounding name of "carrageenan"!

Well, needless to say, the forward momentum didn't last all that long and soon my sleek craft was becoming mired in the lush growth. Long ribbons of sea weed adhered to the paddle blades and susequently slithered off to cover the deck and spray cover - my paddling partner just rolled her eyes! The "surface" of the ocean in this cove was dead calm, unlike the choppy and confused waters of the channel. Mired, but definitely a good "port in a storm", I observed out loud to my patient spouse. Kayakers, after all, have been known to find temporary respite from wind and wave by paddling into a "field" of bull kelp and situating themselves amidst the large, floating bulbous ends of the plant, their sheer mass and numbers, calming the water.

The very fact that I had become slightly "bogged down" in sea weed gave me time and reason to focus my attention on what it was that I had become part of in the cove. There was much more than sea weed - bobbing in slow motion on the congested surface was a discarded cork from what I imagined a very fine bottle of wine; a glass bottle (no note); a few pieces of the ever-present styrofoam; a faded tennis ball; a piece of nylon rope. There were also, however, countless species of seaweed that I must later look up in the field guide. There were little crab-like critters, almost invisible to the eye. Clearing a patch of water revealed parachute-like jelly fish, their "chutes" opening and closing and providing propulsion below the greenery. I had become part of a whole "universe" in this little cove and wondered if any of the creatures observed me.

Exiting my imaginary Sargasso Sea required some significant paddle strokes, but finally free, the kayak once again welcomed the lively wave motion. Nature had shared another one of life's lessons. Those occasions when life's events cause us to feel "bogged down" or even mired, can have a silver lining. When we're "bogged down", instead of letting tension get the best of us, we need to slow down and take the opportunity to observe, collect our thoughts, breath deeply, and ponder what's around us. More often that not, it is in doing these things that we find respite and renewed strength. Refreshed and calmed, and a few strong "paddle strokes" later, we're free again.

Hmm, I wonder if sea lettuce would go well with a Greek and feta dressing?


  1. I can just see you paddling into the cove searching for some magic treasure amongst the seaweed. Think maybe you have already found your greatest treasure in the woman who just rolls her eyes and smiles at you and your exploring nature.
    Enjoy your "rest" time.

  2. Yup, I think you're pretty much right on...thx for that.

  3. Yes well since reading this post I have the greatest fear now of finding "sea lettuce" in our lunches....the mushrooms were bad enough.

  4. That was sea lettuce in the salad the last time we got together at our place and, gosh, everyone seemed to really enjoy the stewed bull kelp! Just kidding!

  5. Duncan:

    You and your partner as so adventurous, I envy you in some ways, but I do have limitations. I just cannot imagine eating sea lettuce with or without greek and feta dressing, sea weed ice cream or stewed bull kelp. Is this what it means to be a vegetarian?


  6. Well, you gotta admit, the price is right! Smile!