In the dark

Posted by Ken Campbell November 29, 2011 0 Comment 1036 views

The sea just sits silently, but sometimes she does more.
And someone weeps as her love sleeps safe upon the shore.
Great Big Sea
Yesterday morning I went down to the Foss. (It seems strange to travel to water when it’s just outside my door but the Narrows was active yesterday, too active for a SUP in the dark.) So I hied on down to Thea’s Park and did the down-and-back through the darkened marinas and the reflecting lights of the city. Past the shipyard, where a half-finished tug sits at the dock behind the containment booms. Past the little point of land where cottonwoods and alders grow incongruously along the shore, mixed in with the post-industrial grime and the luxury yachts. Past dozing flocks of Canada geese, who paddle off impatiently at my approach. It is dark, winter dark, but the eyes adjust.
This morning I did the same thing, but on my home turf instead. I woke early, just before slack, and the water was flat as a griddle all the way across to the Gig Harbor side. I dressed and pulled the board down off the rack, and in minutes I was floating. It is darker in the Narrows than in the Foss, much darker. Vision is accomplished with the ears as much as the eyes, and the toes, feet and calves sense the shifts in current and in the way the surface changes. I hear a sea lion off to the north but I never see him. A barge is passing in front of me, off in the distance, and I can feel his wake a few minutes later as it reaches my position.
I focus on a light on the far cliff, angling towards it as the current builds. Slack doesn’t last too long during times of large tidal exchanges and this morning’s is a big one. The approaching shoreline is hard to make out, completely in shadow, but the eyes adjust. I can see rocks above and below the surface and I pick my way slowly through the velvet, feeling the force of the fresh current as it grows stronger. I turn and start back again.
A breeze has begun to blow out of the south, working in opposition to the current. The water’s surface, once so calm, is lumpy now. The wind waves make the water hard to read and I pick a point on the far shore and paddle hard towards it. It’s all I can do. A heron squawks overhead and I try to pick it out against the overcast. We are insomniacs, the heron and I, with more to do, a mile yet to go, before we sleep.

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