Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kayaking Kenosee

On the first day I met Mira, I told her I was an experiential learner. I had to go to Europe before I could look at a map and understand it; I flew into Hong Kong having read nothing about the city of my friends; I cook without recipes.

It's Wednesday at Internship Seminar, and Mira and I are supposed to dialogue through thirty-three open-ended questions to help us consider our working relationship. We've brought two kayaks, loaded proudly on Mira's Opa's red truck; this afternoon will be our only window to get out on the lake. We tear out the questions, slide off the kayaks, slip on the life jackets, and head for the Kenosee Lake beach.

I pull the Kayak I've borrowed from Justin into the water. I bob the boat up and down, double headed paddle teetering on either side, like I would to balance in a canoe. Mira is back on shore. I'm yelling questions, not waiting for answers. "Is it like a canoe? Do I just step in? How deep should I go in?"

I step into the kayak, bounce up and down a little, balancing with the paddle; then I squat my knees and fall back into the low seat, back straight, like Mira had said once in one of our talks. I land fairly hard; the kayak bounces once and then rolls to the right, me and my straight back falling into about two feet of water.

I stand up, not five minutes out and soaking from my head to my toes. Mira is laughing hysterically on the shore. I double up in laughter. "Oh, good," I shout, "We have an audience." Quite a few of our conference participants are dialoguing on the lawn of the inn, facing the lake. Mira snaps some pictures and continues to laugh.

Three and a half hours later we are returning from a paddle across the lake to the church camps and where we go for fiddle camp. We've just finished thirty three questions. The last question is, "What do you want to get from this seminar?"

I yell back at Mira as I head for shore, "To Kayak."

Thursday we only kayak for half an hour, just as the sun is setting, then we have to run back for an evening session.

Friday we finish our last session, load up the truck and head for the lake. As we are untying the kayaks, a man approaches us. "This is a strange question, but how would you like to be part of a photo shoot? My friend is a professional photographer and he saw you on the lake yesterday and was wondering if you'd be around at sunset. He hopes there may be a harvest moon, and would love to have some kayaks to photograph against the lake and sky."

We decide to stay. I text Michael. Mira texts her sister.

We launch onto the lake at 2:00 and don't come back to the dock until 5:45, as the sun is slipping into position to set. In an hour it's all over. We're packing up the kayaks. The moon was too hazy behind the clouds to give the photographer great pictures, but Mira and I think the moon is the best part of the night as it rises, the growing bluer and bluer as we drive away.

Man sitting with legs covered in boat that tapers to a point at each end holding long, pointed, wooden pole
Inuit seal hunter in a kayak, armed with a harpoon

Photo of two males wearing fur sitting in well of large kayak
Two people in kayak, Nunivak, Alaska, photographed by Edward S. Curtis, 1930

Inupiat in a kayak, Noatak, Alaska, c. 1929 (photo by Edward S. Curtis)

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