Friday, June 08, 2007

Totally random

At my friend Sam's urging, I started reading Daniel Duane's book Caught Inside, which is kind of a meditation on the notion of "sense of place", the likes of which can only be achieved through an intimate familiarity with a given location or environment. I'm sure anyone reading this blog has their own "special places" that they know like the back of their hand. You'd be able to relate to Duane's examination of a short stretch of Cali's central coast. In the book, Duane pulls the plug on the hustle & bustle of his Bay Area yuppie lifestyle in favor of a simpler, revenue-starved, surf-centric lifestyle in a small beach town. If you surf, you know that the sum total of the "experience" is far greater than just the athleticism or the motions & actions involved in surfing. Through examining -- & truly knowing -- that particular environment's ecosystems, histories & many faces & moods, Duane is able to convey the esoteric "feeling" that surfers, & only surfers, often claim to know.

Well, we, as kayakers, also know that "feeling", since kayaking, at its heart, is nothing more than an athletic channel, born out of necessity (hunting for food), that allows one to tune into & develop deep relationships with the surrounding environment. Yeah, physical & mental challenges, achieving goals & the sheer fun factor of moving downstream (the faster the better) are all important ingredients in the whole enchilada .. but at the end of the day, it's the total immersion in & communion with raw, natural systems, non-built environments, that creates that "sense of place".

And this brings me to the present moment -- lunchbreak on a beautiful stretch of waterfront overlooking Commencement Bay, Fox Island & Gig Harbor. The briny smell of the Sound. Warm sunshine. Harbor seals & the cackling of gulls. Yet, as perfect as this scene is, I'm just a casual observer. As much as I want to be "part of" it, I'm not & I won't be. Ever since I was a kid, whether it was at the beach, or hiking a creekside trail in the CO Rockies, or camping next to an alpine lake in Idaho, I need to be IN the water, or at least "on" the water, like, in a boat, in order to feel connected. I need to feel the salt on my skin or the river grit in my hair. I'm not sure what that need for constant baptismal immersion is all about, but as I have to get back to work now, I'll be leaving this scene content, but not totally satisfied.


Here are some random recent pics.

If you go to run the Big Silver, you'll pass this old guy's property. Lester is his name. Someone burned down his house, so he's living in a tiny bombed-out trailer with a pack of dogs, and raising funds by turning in recyclables. So in the off-chance you're up that way, drop off some stuff for him.

Drew playboating Tumwater. There's some splashy waves & stuff at 10K.

My friend Nate rides a scooter around the city .. & he does it "nice".


Hale said...

You always have some provocative writing, and yes I have thought about my "sense of place" and I would have to say it is in the wilderness of the North West. From the cascade mountains to the pacific ocean, and of course the the rivers in-between! This is the place where I can come and think about nothing or focus on just one thing, like that eddy down below, or that snow covered pillow turn, or a sail trim to get that extra knot per hour! When I am in these places I dont think about what I should be doing, I am just focused on the moment and what I am doing now.
Peace Out
Good deep thought moment!

David said...

Hi there,
I'd love some feedback from all you kayakers out there regarding put-in and pick-up service along the Mountain Loop Hwy. We are located just past Green Mtn Rd, the popular spot to put in to the Stilly.

Typically we've had cars parked on our property which borders Mtn loop. Since we are renovating that area for pastures, parking won't be available much longer (fencing will block it). But we'd like to hear back if kayakers would like to park up at the ranch. It would be off the road and by nature a bit more secure.
Check us