Saturday, July 16, 2011

CHINCOTEAGUE: Midnight Dreaming On The Water.

The past five nights I have sat on the screened in porch overlooking the canal and watched the reflections of the moon on the slick glass surface of the water. Blue crabs climb up the walls and release back into the depths with a splash. Small silver fish and small scurrying shrimp splash and click along the surface of the water. I look out into the panorama and I imagine it as it once was when inhabited by natives in converted tree trunk canoes.

Tonight I decided to experience as much of that as my imagination would allow.

I slipped on my favorite hoodie and doused my legs and head with mosquito repellent. I grabbed my Android and a small flashlight. I slipped on my water shoes and stepped out into the darkness. 

As I pushed away from the dock I felt the kayak glide softly over the surface. It didn't make a sound.  However, the night was alive with sounds that my mind quickly attempted to identify. I could hear a far off air-conditioning unit, a nearby bug-zapper, the traffic 3 miles away crossing the bridge, nightlife insects, the  crabs with their soft splashes... and the occasional noise that I could not explain. My mind went to the scene on the lake from Friday The 13th when the people were pulled into the water. I felt a chill and shudder shake through my body--and then quickly pushed away the thought.

The moon was full tonight and so I began taking a few quick pictures as I paddled up the canal, crossing the 300 yards to the bay. Tonight was simply about a little risk and a little adventure. High stakes stuff for this 36 year old. I was in a kayak that I was forbidden to use, paddling with a plastic paddle that was meant for a child's toy, with no life vest, no lights, and in a canal of unknown depth. I was keenly aware that I was violating several rules: expired tags on boat, night-time crossing, no life vests... blah, blah, blah.

I figured that the early native Americans didn't have any of that stuff either, and I knew that I could swim the short distance to the canal wall if necessary. What is life without a little risk? So I kept quietly paddling up the canal.
I love solitude, and this moment was a nice contrast to the earlier day. There had been morning kayak runs with the kids, donuts, a museum visit, time at the beach, shopping, and of course dinner. It has been a very nice week with some appreciated rest and time with family. I took the moment to reflect. Our week draws to an end in the next 48 hours and I am not yet ready to see it end.

I came to the mouth of the bay and snapped one final shot. The photographs you see are using only the light of the moon. It was absolutely startling how bright the night seemed as my bow entered the expanse of the open water. I stopped moving and just felt the glide of the craft across the surface. I could see the lighthouse sweeping slowly off to my right and I followed its beam as it painted the tops of the trees.

The sky was like a living canvas with a thousand points of light. A reversed image of the sky rested on the water and the dual moons teased my brain. Suddenly a fish jumped out of the water just off the bow of the boat and I again thought of being pulled into the water by some unknown beast from below.

I decided that I had experienced enough adventure and pushed my luck enough out here alone on this liquid landscape. A stroke at a time I silently made my way back to our rented house, docked and tied the kayak, and then stepped off safely once again on dry land.

I will lay my head down on my pillow to dream tonight and maybe I will dream of Indians on a stream, or of monsters in a lake. Whatever the case, I am glad that I took my own small journey tonight.

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