A Kayak Run
by: Mike Lushington  

            It was cold and raw, but there was little wind as I drove the old truck down to the beach. It was also late October, just about time to put the kayak away for the year. Not today, though.

            I slipped the boat into the water and checked the rest of my equipment. This included a toque and a pair of gloves, items which I don't ordinarily think of when I am kayaking, but which had a definite appeal today. I climbed into the kayak, adjusted the splash skirt and my paddle, set the rudder and pushed off.

            Even as I set out, I could detect a slightly rising east wind, the prelude to a storm, which was being predicted for tomorrow. With that in mind, I set the nose of the boat to the east, into the breeze, so that I could keep an eye on things until it was time for me to head back home. I also decided to stick closer to shore than I normally do. This was partly prudence, but also curiosity; I wanted to see what birds might be hanging around in the little coves along the shoreline.

            There wasn't much life. I startled a pair of Black ducks as I rounded one little outcrop and several Bonaparte gulls flitted along the surface ahead of me. Further out, I could see several small flocks of Surf scoters bobbing on the surface, together with the last of the cormorants and a solitary loon. A couple of Herring gulls flew overhead and one huge Great black-backed gull coasted west on the distance. Otherwise, it was still - at least for the moment.

            I swung the nose of the kayak slightly further out toward the channel. Immediately I could feel the pulse of the water, the first sensations of a storm surge. It was something different from the waves and chop of even a brisk northwesterly breeze, the usual agitator of the waters of the estuary. That is quick and light in its feel, but this was a slower, heavier pulse, one of determination and purpose. I muttered something about its feeling like a heavy storm coming as I continued my passage eastward. Come it might, but it was not going to happen for a few hours yet; I could finish my paddle in safety. (20)

            As I neared the Marina in Dalhousie, I decided that I would swing out further toward the channel on my way back. I could "surf" the slowly building waves and take a direct run back at the same time. It would also allow me to look at the estuary from a different perspective than the one that I had already enjoyed. I swung around the breakwater and pointed northwest temporarily, gaining a bit of open water before settling into my homeward course.

            It was a good decision. Immediately I could feel the surge lift the kayak and help to propel it along. I changed my rhythm slightly to settle in with the pulse of the water, becoming one with it. Small waves broke around me but otherwise it was calm. The breeze, which I had felt on my outward passage, seemed to disappear, an effect of my moving with, rather than against, it. A seal broke the surface just ahead, as curious with me as I was with it; it was the first that I had seen in the estuary this fall. I greeted it softly as we passed each other and it responded with a puff of breath as it submerged, more to continue it business of searching out its supper than because it was alarmed at my presence.

            And then I was back at my landing place. It had been an uneventful little outing, but one filled with the pleasure of simply being out there on a day which did not seem to have much to offer but which, in its own humble fashion, had given me memories to take into the winter ahead.


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