Today, I am kayaking 9-10 miles from my home, down to Olympia. I’ve wanted to do this since the beginning of summer, and this blue-sky autumn day was the perfect day for it. It wasn’t too hot, but it was warm enough to make me feel happy and content. I set out from the shade of the trees, still green with summer. Down to the shore. I push the nose of the kayak into the water, slid my paddle inside, and push off. I glide out over the water, deftly balancing before sliding into my seat. It’s time to set out.
I waste no time dallying around the moored motorboats. It’s time for an adventure, and I set off down the shore with swift, sure strokes. I reach Hunter Point first, and rest there. The tide is nearly at it’s peak, and I can feel it sucking at me. The water rolls like a living thing toward me, glassy and green as a jewel. I turn my prow into the oncoming waves, and hear the rhythmic, watery thumps as as my prow rises and falls into them. A minute or so later, the waves bound off the seawall and return, subsiding out into the depths of the inlet. I reach out for a buoy and catch hold, letting it anchor me as I rest. After a few minutes, I set out again.
I paddle around ancient boats, and dilapidated boat houses. Some folk watch me from their front porch. A golden retriever, grey around the muzzle, surveys me from his beach. A seal bobs to the surface, its sleek head and dark eyes those of another world. I click to it with my tongue. It watches me, then dips down into the waters again. A kingfisher flies down the shore in a loud, scolding voice. A heron wings away, hunched like an old man, its broad, broad wings slowly beating the air. A slide into a hidden cove, thick forests just beyond the seashell laden shore. A trickle of freshwater runs, gurgling, down the steep hillside. Yes, this is a good place to rest.
In time, I cross over from Edgewater Beach to the very tip of Cooper Point. And, it quite literally is a tip. A huge, elegant house stands on the point, where it is wide enough to hold it. But out here, the beach narrows to a thin point, about as wide as my kayak. After fighting the tide in the crossing, I rest on the west side of the point, letting the waves gently rock me back and forth, feeling the sun on my face, reveling in the last breaths of summer. The seagulls are less than pleased about my presence. This is their bit of land, they think. They wing away, squawking their protests.
And then? It’s onward, down the west shore of Cooper Point, down into Budd Inlet. And… I pass by memories. There is the shore where I spent time with old friends, long gone, and barred from returning. The place seems smaller, somehow, than it did years ago. It’s not so important anymore. And its hurt has faded. I am free.
Other memories are full of life. I recognize that house! We spent a homegroup outing there. I remember laughing at the boys as they goofed off in the raft and kayaks, spraying each other with the hose afterward. I remember times spent with my dear gal friends, talking of anything and everything, and enjoying one another’s company. I remember family. Home. Joy.
And then I move onwards. Traveling here, I have a different perspective than those traveling by land. I see the tunnels of light through the trees, their end at an old, concrete boat launch, caved in by time. Roots hang, exposed below. And the concrete slabs lay shattered like Aslan’s Stone Table.
I see hidden coves. Crabs scuttling deep below me, as I skim over the clear, clear water. A young doe suckling her twins. A multitude of houses, of all types. Some draped with Tibetan flags, faded by the sun. Others new, vast, full of windows. And yet others, reaching out precariously to the sea, supported by pilings covered in barnacles and mussels. I pass unseen by many of these places. I am the silent viewer, the silent admirer of these houses by the saltwater.
Later, I’ll stand out on a log boom, balancing amidst the tangle of logs, and haul my kayak up and over. Navigation… navigation. How did I get in this mess? Good thing I still have my dancer balance. Good thing I still have the strength to haul a kayak. And that water… such a beautiful sea-green. It’s a good thing I’m part mermaid. I love the water. And I love being out on the water. No matter how much my arms ache afterwards, or my dreams are filled with the motion of waves beneath me.