Monday, September 28, 2009

An Eagle Before Breakfast

A friend who also kayaks was telling me about her adventures living on Prince Edward Island this summer. “I saw an eagle before breakfast!” We both paused and said in unison, “What a wonderful title!” We decided to use it if we found a place for it. For me, it seemed like a title for this column. On Crane Creek, I’ve seen an eagle before supper twice now.

September 2 I packed a picnic lunch and set off paddling. My favorite picnic spot is up the east end of the lake. There’s a spot where two creeks flow in. There’s always shade, even at noon, under an overhanging hop hornbeam tree. It’s quiet up there, too shallow for motor boats. To get there, I had to paddle against the wind for twenty or thirty minutes. The brisk northeast wind was raising bouncy waves with little curls of foam. I dug in and paddled steadily. I began to think about the wind. In a small boat there are two choices. You can paddle against the wind or with the wind. Trying to go crosswise can roll a little boat if the wind is strong enough. There are strong winds blowing in our world today and our boats are small. Will we go against the wind and paddle strongly, or will we turn and be blown along by the wind?

No eagles on this trip, kingfishers darting by, great blue herons fishing in the shallows, a tree with four egrets standing in it, a little green heron that snapped at and caught a dragon fly. The rhythm paddling, the beauty of the cardinal flowers on the banks, the elegance of an egret with its white wings tipped in gold by the sun behind it all feed my soul.

Sept 3 It all started with a pair of long nosed pliers. After borrowing a pair from a fisherman to free a turtle I’d found dragging an orange bobber and line with a hook in his jaw, I decided I needed a pair to carry in my kayak. My grand daughter had found a bottle with hook and line wound around it on a recent trip and played at fishing with the bare hook. I certainly needed to be prepared in case of an accident with a hook. So I went to buy an inexpensive set of pliers. Then, I needed a way to carry the pliers. I always try to carry a full survival kit when I hike, perhaps I should have a kit when I kayak. So I got a space blanket, waterproof match holder, first aid kit, some rope, water purifying tablets. With what I had at home, I put together a four pound kit that zips into a hip pack. Now when I paddle, it rides behind my seat, clipped to the strap that supports the seat back. I feel better going prepared. Spiritual survival kit? I found a water repellent New Testament bound in plastic with a plastic zipper. I read Colossians the other day while floating in an inlet. What are you carrying in your life’s survival kit?