Hollyhock Journal 9

The banging of the rain on the tent fly awakens me at four A.M., and I lie in the sleeping bag rehearsing my requests for help to drag the kayak from the beach, for a truck, for the boat from Lund.  Better than asking to be rescued by the Coast Guard or leaving Jan in the lurch.  I pack my gear, haul it to the lodge, watch the cold drops bounce in the hot tub, listen to the wind on the way to the Sanctuary. Before breakfast, Laurel and Brenda look worried and I say I wont be kayaking, and they say very good. Down in the chatroom I check the weather report again: rain only till mid afternoon. Outside, the wind has died down. The water is pockmarked but flat. At breakfast, I state my second change of plans and Ruth announces that they’ll see me off from the porch not the beach.  Grateful again for the heavy-duty windbreaker, I carry my gear and a packed lunch down to the shore past a gaggle of honking Canadian geese and walk back to the lodge for a group portrait. Ruth asks me to call her when I arrive in Lund and she will let the others know. I feel cleansed, buoyant and protected.

Alone on the wide beach in the misty rain, I load the kayak with slow deliberation, making sure hatches are tightly sealed and the sprayskirt suspenders are properly hitched to keep out water from above and below. I pour a libation from my drinking bottle onto the sand and then perform a Japanese bow to land and sea.  Finally afloat and rudder down, I swivel the kayak to face the lodge and wave my paddle overhead.  In reply there’s a high-pitched roar.

As I glide toward the southern point of Twin Islands, drops of rain go plick-plack and raise tiny domed towers in the center of widening circular ripples. The paddling has an easy rhythm controlled by the same muscles that held my posture erect while sitting. Nothing I’ve written has been as successful as my sojourn’s staged conclusion, but every minute of the trip has felt adventurous, and I depart with the hope that I’ve earned the teacher’s approval. Looking westward toward the gray expanse of sea and sky between Cortes and Hernando, I fantasize turning right ninety degrees and heading off into the great beyond.

The rain subsides during the crossing to Hernando, where I stop at a cove to pee and eat lunch.  Out from the lee of the island afterwards, the waves pick up, but not enough to discourage me from heading straight across the open water toward Major Rock rather than trying to take the longer route hugging the shores of Hernando and Savary.  I get within striking distance of the Ragged Islands so quickly that I expect to be in Lund two hours earlier than planned, but then I find that for twenty minutes I’ve made no progress at all. The sun has come out and the tide and wind must have shifted. I paddle hard to reach the protection of the narrow channel between the first two Raggeds, passing the point that Jan and I and the children and grandchildren have camped on over the years.  There’s some shelter here, but it still takes the time and effort I originally estimated to reach my destination.  I call and leave messages about safe arrival for Jan, Peter and Ruth, return the kayak, and head to the Lund Pub for a beer and a hamburger.

Leave a Reply