Daylight ops

Posted by Ken Campbell November 13, 2009 1 Comment 955 views

Remember those old commercials they used to run to make gullible young boys join the Army? “We do more before 6:00 am than most people do all day.” Hardly seems like an effective ad campaign to me… Join up. Work your ass off. In the Air Force, we used to say that we didn’t do more before 9:00 am than most people don’t do all day. We were clever, and a bit cynical, and in the end, it’s not necessarily a better sound bite.
The thing is, when it comes to paddling, I am usually done by 6:30 am, at the latest. So today was unusual. I paddled the Foss Waterway during daylight hours, and got to see, with a little more clarity, all the things I can only glimpse and guess at during my usual morning lap.

When you paddle during hours of darkness, the thing you miss is the color. There is beauty in the dark, but it is a beauty that is built with texture and reflection, surfaces and empty spaces. The nuances of depth and perspective are lost in the shadows. I glide upon black water, among shadowy boats and darkened shores, the lights of the city punctuating the blackness without changing it.

And then, on those rare days like today, when I get a chance to see it all while the lights are on, it becomes a completely different place. At least in my senses. The biggest change is the color… there is so little actual color in the early morning hours. Shades of black and coal, tricks of the shadows. But during the day, now that is a different story. I can see the reds and the greens, the blues and the yellows. All the hues that disappear during hours of darkness are revived by the dawn. The red of the tugs matches the color of my board. The blues of the dome reflect the morning sky. The metallic green of the Murray Morgan Bridge lends a sense of dignity to the scene, like a well-respected elder from another time.

Color is in the dragon boats at dockside. In the neon of the sign at Johnny’s Dock. The color of time is rubbed into the decks of the Odyssey and the Skipjack alike (either of which is a boat I could run away with and be happy).

Tomorrow I will be out there early once again. It will be cold and colorless, as usual. But, of course, that is only a trick of the light.

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