Friday, September 02, 2011

A Kayak Ride

All things are artificial, for nature is the art of God.
--Thomas Browne

On Wednesday I pushed my kayak off the sandy shore and paddled across Black Bay to the opposite shore. My eldest daughter accompanied me in a long, blue kayak, a stark contrast to my short red one. We wore jeans. Fleeces. Tennis shoes. It was cold and gray, and ode, perhaps, to our proximity to the Canadian border, a country whose very mention, fairly or not, conjures up visions of cold. It was a lengthy kayak ride considering the late afternoon hour, but the water was still and quiet, the wind having finally dissipated and moved on to a more easterly location, and it was too wonderful to do anything but paddle, then drift and then observe and take in our surroundings. 

Opposite from our starting point was a Minnesota state forest. To the east a small island, with a lone inhabitant, and beyond the island, a swampish shore. To the west was a small channel, which days earlier had taken our party, by pontoon boat, into the larger areas of Lake Vermillion, but was quiet that day, with a few lone fisherman braving the cold of the weekday, and none making their way into Black Bay, on the northern most end of the lake. 

Though we had seen scant boat traffic throughout the week since our arrival the Saturday prior, that Wednesday saw none. We paddled to a small rock island and floated, breathing in the smells of the lake and the pine trees and the crisp air. The slight breeze ruffled leaves on birch trees, creating a quiet, rhythmic duet with the waves licking the sides of our boats. 

Eventually it was time to turn back. Dinner, overlooking the lake, was to be eaten, campfires to be made and inky, pitch black night skies with bright, glowing stars were to be enjoyed, as they had been the nights prior. But we didn't feel particularly hurried or rushed. We took our time, exploring another rock island and, eventually, paddling and drifting our way back to our home base.

The week was a great one, one with lots of excitement (tubing!) and lots of relaxing (morning coffee on the pier), but that kayak ride was a standout moment, and one I won't soon forget.