Sunday, December 23, 2012

Paddling through December...when "seas" are grey and cold.

If we make it through December
everything's gonna be all right I know.
It's the coldest time of winter
and I shiver when I see the falling snow.
- from a song by Merle Haggard.

I fell asleep last night...hoping to be doing this today.
On this, the second shortest day of the year (by just five seconds), the waters of the Salish Sea off Gabriola Island were grey and looking very cold this morning. The snow-capped Coastal Mountains on Canada's mainland were just barely visible through the soft mist. The thermometer on the deck indicated it was a cool 2 degrees C. It was tempting to just light a fire in the wood stove, snuggle back in, and enjoy a second cup of coffee. A light rain was falling. The air, however, was quiet. The winds were forecast to increase but not until later in the afternoon. This was our "window" of opportunity to get out on the water. Joan (who is always right) assured me that it would be worth the effort. We've learned, after all, that some of the best days on the water are the ones that take a little extra "will"power.

The gear was ready and waiting in the HMKTV (High Mobility Kayak Transport Vehicle) and it didn't take long to get suited up and to the launch site at Descanso Regional Park.

Final check...launch time.
In no time, we were on the water, paddling out of the bay, and sharing the vast water with ghostly ships at anchor in Nanaimo Harbour.

An hour or so passed, but the time felt like mere moments. The rain drops were mesmerizing as they danced on the surface of the Salish Sea around us. Soon we approached Entrance Island and its "picture perfect postcard" lighthouse, the familiar barking of sea lions welcoming (or, perhaps, warning?) our two yellow kayaks.

Joan - in between a "rock" (Entrance Island) and a tug boat.
An ocean-going tug "sped" past on its way to pick up some business on nearby Vancouver Island, leaving us to enjoy its passing wake.

What goes down...
...comes happily up!
After a couple of hours of paddling, it was definitely time to have a "nutrition" break and what better treat than a "Garibaldi Cookie" from the Slow Rise Organic Bakery on Gabriola Island. We look across to Mt. Garibaldi from the cabin and, believe me, the "cookie" is as impressive as the mountain! :)

The "Maverick" paddling gloves provide the fingers 
sufficient dexterity to open a "zip-lock" bag. Sweet!
"Garibaldi Cookies" from Gabriola Island's
Slow Rise Organic Bakery - mmmm!
Rounding the end of the Island, we could feel the wind freshening. As if to keep up, the rain increased with renewed vigour, the large drops bouncing gleefully off the water. Paddling in the rain is always a special treat. The sea and the sky were grey but the brightly coloured kayaks added colour, warmth, and cheer to the wintry seascape.

Splashes of colour in a colourless environment.
This is a very special time of the year...but not for all. For all too many, the Christmas season will be marked by continued struggle and recent heartbreak. Hunger and homelessness, acts of violence and the news of a frightening diagnosis shake us to the very core. In the midst of all this, the peace, joy, hope, and love of Christmas are elements of human experience that humankind yearns for, whether we embrace a particular faith tradition or none at all. In our most hopeful moments, we believe it is, somehow, within our grasp.

I reflected on how our tiny, but brightly coloured, ocean-going kayaks are able to transform the "grey" winter environment of the Salish Sea. Perhaps that is a calling to each of us this season - to bring, in every way that we can, colour, warmth, and cheer to the world wherever it is grey and cold and threatening. That's the way we'll make it through December...and through every moment of time to come.

There's a very big smile under the "hood". :)
I believe in the power of peace, joy, hope, and love - and I know that it is within our grasp to enrich the human landscape when we live our lives with deep understanding and brave compassion. If a tiny sea kayak can bring colour and texture to a mighty ocean, then the human spirit, at its very best, can touch and transform a "December" world. We'll all "paddle" through.


Postscript: I struggled with whether or not to make comment on this blog on an issue that has touched so many this past week. I feel I can do no other and so add my small voice to those who feel a sense of deep sadness and revulsion in response to the position taken by the National Rifle Association (NRA) with regards to the safety of school children. Surely the 4.3 million members of the NRA cannot subscribe to the dark and disturbing stated position of their leadership? More guns as a solution? How incredibly shameful.


  1. I love those two last paragraphs. We all need to take them to heart because together, we can transform this world.
    Glad you added the postscript, I couldn't believe it the other day when I read about the NRA and had to reread it to be sure I had understood it correctly. When will they ever learn?
    Merry Christmas D & J

  2. To answer your question, L, I don't know. But we will remain hopeful - there's no downside to remaining strong and positive about life. As always, thanks for coming by. D.

  3. Just think how contagious a smile is - and how laughter is so healing. A lot like your kayaks on the winter water. :-) Those Garibaldi cookies DO look good! Gen.

  4. While at first it may sound crude; I'm glad you guys were "shaken to the core." I'm glad people are horrified; it shows not everyone is desensitized to these horrible acts.Keep posting about the truth; which like the kayaks is the glimmer of colour on an otherwise dreary place!

  5. Couldn't agree more, Gen. There's a beautiful song called, "Give to us laughter" and the words tell how laughter contributes so much to wholeness and health and in so many ways. As for the cookies from Gabriola, happy to share anytime. :) Duncan.

    I understand exactly what you're saying, Lee. One of the glimmers of hope here may well be in the experience of shared grief. Such as that has moved people to make positive change in society and to stand up against attitudes that devalue or put at risk others. I appreciate your comment. Many thanks, Duncan.

  6. Beautiful Blog Duncan and Joan,
    It is sad when people think the answer may be more guns. I wonder about the games, songs, t.v. and movies people play, watch and listen to. I remember my Dad making us turn the t.v. off if a gun was drawn on t.v. That was Bonanza and we only had two channels. I must remind him of that. He would laugh. It's funny how I parent just like my parents and I thought they were funny!
    You did teach us that the world is becoming a better place and I hold fast to every word you said and Joan's actions. Think of both of you very often.

  7. Thank you Jen. Keep the faith, we'll never give up on this world. :) Duncan.