Sunday, January 26, 2014

Paddling blue skies and fog banks...a metaphor for life, fuelled by "claggy" beans.

A blazing January sun, low in an azure sky.
This weekend on south Vancouver Island has been spectacular - veritable January "summer" days! And we'll take 'em. With temperatures around 5 degrees Celsius and clear skies, it's a perfect time to be on the water. Although we usually cross over to Saltspring Island, today we wouldn't. Dense fog was forecast to roll in sometime during the afternoon and low-profile sea kayaks can too easily become "speed bumps" for larger vessels when visibility is limited.

Launching at Genoa Bay, the conditions looked (and felt) like summer. After weeks of grey skies, everyone here is ready for some sunshine!

At the Separation Point light, we left the mirror-like waters of Cowichan Bay and turned into Sansum Narrows, en route to a "secret" beach.

Separation Point, and Saltspring Island across the narrows.

It was on this lovely pebble beach that I had planned a delicious, simple, and sustaining meal of "claggy" beans. Yes, another "gourmet" meal devised and field-prepared by yours truly. ("Claggy", by the way, is a rather descriptive term for thick, sticky, and gooey.) Simple and relatively unattractive, but they would be sustaining!

After about 90 minutes of paddling in what can only be described as "dreamy" conditions and accompanied by seals, gulls, and bald eagles, we arrived at the designated dining venue,

Joan explored the beach, enjoying the warm sunshine...undoubtedly savouring what was to come.

Exploring? Perhaps it was "pacing"?
No need to worry, Joan, It'll be delicious!
In the meantime, I set up the field kitchen and began preparations for our lunch. I had a feeling she would be very pleased. 

Kayak Specific Field Kitchen. (KSFK)
I really do need to get on the "Food Channel"!
And indeed, she was pleased!

Mmmm... (She's such a good sport!)
Now, having said that, I will admit that "presentation" lacked some imagination and, sadly, I had only packed one tiny container of beans, The second (and larger) container appeared to have been left in the fridge - along with the brown rice which had been carefully seasoned with homemade plum sauce. 

Truly, it didn't seem like very much nourishment for several hours of paddling...but, well, there were a couple of apples for dessert.

Although it was a small serving, it was rather tasty!
Joan, however, is always a good sport and after complimenting me on the "light" lunch, offered to take care of the washing up.

In the meantime, weather conditions were quickly changing.

With the warm sun still brightly shining overhead, the forecast fog began to roll in - rather dramatically. We quickly launched the boats for the paddle back to Separation Point and into Cowichan Bay.

The fog bank rolls rapidly in!
The air took on a significant chill and soon there was no visibility ahead, behind, or to the port side - we would need to keep close to the shore.

We could hear the engine of a large fishing boat - but it remained unseen.

The sun, however, was still very much there, just obscured by the gathering mists.

The sun is still there.
As we paddled back past Separation Point...

...and neared the familiar homes and marina of Genoa Bay, the fog cleared as quickly as it had come, and the warmth of the sun penetrated our dry suits. It had been a spectacular day to be on the water - and the changing conditions had offered a metaphor for life.

Out of the fog and back into the sun!
Life can be like that day on the water. We begin a day or a week, a new vocation or a fresh venture filled with every reason to anticipate a positive outcome. The sun is shining brightly on us. And then, conditions change. A "fog" may roll in the form of matters related to health, or finances, or an unexpected event, or a "reality check" that challenges our optimism. We should not, however, be quickly discouraged.

Despite the fact that, while paddling, the visibility was significantly reduced, the sun was there the whole time. And it wasn't long before we were out of the "clouds", with the way to our destination clear and no longer obscured. 

Life can be a roller coaster ride - with lots of ups and down, temporary set backs, and obstacles. We just need to allow them to sharpen our resolve and our determination, knowing that like the sun, the trusted sources of strength in our lives will not likely desert us. Whether these sources of strength are good friends, family, confidence in our own personal skills and abilities, or a spiritual belief in something far greater than ourselves, we need to remember that it's not likely we will suddenly find ourselves alone. They sources of strength will remain in place, just as the sun is always there. 

The paddle to a "secret" beach for a meal (OK, a small portion) of claggy beans turned out to be a superb day on the water. And the journey from sunshine and into the fog bank and back, suggested a valuable metaphor for life itself. Every day is, indeed, a "school day", in the kayak cockpit. :)


  1. Duncan, was that "lunch"? Seriously? Joan is certainly understanding! :>) Loved the pics of the fog coming in. Gen

  2. Yes life certainly is a rollercoast's a good reminder that the sun is always there even when we can't see it, especially at this time of year when one's spirits can be as dreary as the weather.
    It's great that you "treat" Joan to these special lunches when kayaking but if I was her...well I think I would start packing my own lunch :)

  3. Hi Gen, yes it's true but we always have some power bars packed away so there were lots of "back up" calories available. :) And yes, Joan is (very!) understanding. Haha! Great to hear from you. Duncan.

    Hi L, it was a lovely surprise to have a couple of perfectly sunny paddling days 'cause the grey skies do, indeed, penetrate our moods every now and again. Yes, strange as it may sound, Joan has already suggested that she take care of lunch next time. I, however, didn't think there was a problem with either the pea soup, the canned pasta, or the beans. ;) Great to hear from you. D.

  4. I'm not sure that Joan was pacing, I think she might have been looking for a McDonalds!

  5. Haha! You may be correct, Sarah. I'm beginning to see a "trend" with these comments! :) Best wishes and thanks. Duncan.

  6. I love "Every day is, indeed, a "school day", in the kayak cockpit. :)"
    Great post guys!! There is something magical of paddling in the fog.

  7. Thank you for your kind words, Mark. Isn't it great staying in "school"? I don't ever want to graduate! :). Best wishes to you and Robyn. Duncan.

  8. Wonderful blog! I know any meal prepared by someone else is always delicious. I know Joan would agree.
    Glad you are both doing well! Jen

  9. Jen, you're always so positive! Thank you for finding the "silver lining" in my meagre bowl of claggy beans. :) Warm wishes to you and Doug and family! Duncan.

  10. Hi Duncan and Joan
    It's not really the meal that counts but the sharing of it with someone special.
    No "blue sky" days in Scotland yet, but Spring is just round the corner.

    MG Mike

  11. Hi Mike, great to hear from you. You're so right! :) No blue sky yet? Hmm...I'm thinking the sunny weather should probably be there by early March. ;) Take good care, talk to you soon. Duncan.

  12. Hi Joan & Duncan! Thoroughly enjoyed reading of your recent adventure, complete with the claggy beans (Ray would have been all over that!). Looking forward to when we'll get to experience more adventures together when you are here in Liverpool next! Hope all is well!! :-)

  13. Hi Carol, great to hear from you. It would be lovely to visit NS. Please tell Ray that the army IMPs on the West Coast Trail were considerably better than my current offerings! Warm wishes to you both from Joan and I. Duncan.