Posted by: ecckayak | December 27, 2011

Dec 27 – Not alone afterall

The quiet of the burning red sunrise speaks volumes to the turmoil approaching from the West.  Gale force winds have already been forecast last night for today. The 35 degree air, heavy and motionless, envelopes the National Seashore.  There isn’t a ripple to be seen on the water, not in Salt Pond Bay, not within the channels of Nauset Marsh. Coils of sand, as if frozen to the flats, aren’t moving. The abundance of life within the marsh seems non-existent. Am I the only one here?

That would be foolish to even consider. Within the wide channels of the marsh, hidden casts of horseshoe crabs and spider crabs escort me to the ocean. Molted carapaces float past my way. Signs of life, retired for the time being, are surely found in the warmer environment under the water. Winter ducks, eiders and mures, appear where the food is, closer to the ocean swells heard building in the distance. A sure sign the calm of the morning is disappearing with the threatening warm front to the South.

The cooing of the common eider, kind of a gutteral woof-cooing, gargling sound, echoes in a hauntingly beautiful tone across the prairie-like marine hummocks. It is my observation that eiders don’t stay in one place for to long when foraging the outer Cape shores of Nauset and Coast Guard beaches. It is hypnotic to watch these large sea ducks dive bomb for food. Darting along the shore with grace and such speed, the splash the eider produces when diving for food might look like the blow of a whale to the visiting eye. For that very reason I am out today, to catch a glimpse of the Right Whale in the horizon, it’s v-shaped blow distinctive. Focused, eyes moving in their sockets, following a splash to the south, a splash to the north, and my sight catches nothing but eiders, their entry into the ocean blasting salt spray three to four feet above the waters surface. No longer am I in stillness, the magic of the ocean community rises above the vacuum of sound and movement into beauty and energy beyond expression.

At the fringe of the marsh, beyond the sheltered flat waters, in the opening of the inlet, the sounds are magnified in a lapping cadence of bending waves, rolling over smoothed pebbles and rocks, into retreating wash that gets consumed by the never ending process of ebb and flow. It rocks my world.

The surrounding vista, no longer still and quiet. The rhythms of a pulse are lost to the echo of confluences. The mind starts to question the significance of pushing through the surf zone. Aware that the elements of weather are beginning to materialize, the clouds building with the rising air, the wind, puffing and churning like the little engine that could, and yet, the soft sands of the barrier beach beckon safe viewing, if I want.

It is time to assess the risk, something I have learned to do, whether paddling in the warmth of the summer, or the cold during winter, I have learned to not only be aware of wild life, of weather patterns, but also each balanced stroke forward as the paddle catches moving. Am I ready for the slightest unforeseen variable that might wither my comfort level, and force me to combat a situation. More importantly, are the eiders and seals capable of assisting in my exit from the North Atlantic waters should I need help.

Inner voices scream to me above the surf, tempting me to proceed, to paddled on, in this same area, under these same conditions, for which I have paddled countless times. And yet, today, the adrenaline races through my veins, and I succumb to the humbling tone of voices reminding me of my mortality.

Dropping a sweeping low brace turn, water cascading off my spray skirt, the boat edges atop the incoming tide, and draws me home to Hemenway Landing, past black ducks, buffleheads, and stark brown grasses of genus Spartina.

Arriving back to the house, the vacuum of stillness once again enters my world.  My twenty-something girls are still in bed, the ring-neck turtle dove rests upon her perch, and the spirits of our 1830’s farmhouse fill the air.

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