For a long time I loved mountains more than water. That changed when I bought my first kayak, a complicated jumble of canvas, rubber and poles. Assembly could bring me to tears as I crouched on a slippery river bank, mosquitoes nipping my ankles and south Florida humidity plastering my clothes to my back. But the kayak brought me freedom, brought me into the watery heart of the swamp. Juls and I dragged our boats through inches of water and floated them down jungle rivers, jumping out to swim and scoop up handfuls of prehistoric shark teeth.
In Alaska my kayak became part of me, a sleek yellow fiberglass seventeen footer that I loved more than anything else I had ever owned. My new friend Laura and I wandered in lazy circles around Sitka Sound, bypassing the cruise ships and the fishing fleet on our way to hidden bays. I took lessons here, learning how to self-rescue by using a paddle float as an outrigger. The deep clear soul of water pulsed under the boat, a shiny stew of kelp, salt and moon jellyfish, as white and translucent as bridal veils.
Here in this community at the end of the road, there is only one place to paddle and I took my kayak out for the first time this year. It was full of leaves and spiders and winter neglect but in spite of my fickleness it floated just fine. Here you can't get very far. At the end of the lake you have to turn around and go back. There's no secret waterways, no open water that ends in another continent. It can feel a little bit confined after living on both oceans. But as I paddle I remember what someone recently told me; "Most people live in the past or the future. Very few live in the present." It's something to think about, and holding on to the past is like trying to hold the lake in my hands. What I have is here, on this lake, right now.