Saturday, July 16, 2011

Moonlight on Steves Island

A couple nights ago, I pitched my tent out on the granite ledge on Steves Island. I’d closed the gallery, eaten a quick dinner and packed my gear. I ran into Peter at the launch- we’d paddled together the previous evening, watching for thunderstorms, returning to Stonington in a downpour. He watched me pack- it goes pretty quickly when you’re only out for one night- and helped me carry my kayak down to the water.

Since I’ve been guiding a lot lately, I often find myself concentrating on my forward stroke- in slow motion. On one hand, I hope to set an example: “check this out- this is how it’s done.” It’s easier to understand if you see it unfold slowly- and that way no one gets left behind. Some people pick it up pretty well.

Steves Island, 6/7/10

When I get out on my own, especially after a long day in the gallery, it feels like I’ve been cut loose. It starts out slow- I focus on the feel of it: paddle loosely-gripped, blade fully-submerged, rotate the torso and the paddle follows. One blade slices out of the water and the other blade slices in as the torso unwinds. It’s a good feeling. Soon, the pace picks-up: short, quick strokes, a meditative rhythm with the byproduct of forward propulsion.

Soon, I drifted beside Steves Island. I thought of going further, but the little beach on the west side of Steves looked inviting, and the granite boulders were starting to catch that pinkish end of the day light. I set up the tent out on the flat granite ledge- not the designated campsite, but I would leave less impact there, and besides, with the nearly full moon just coming up, I wanted to be out in the open.

Steves Island, 7/14/10

I brewed a cup of tea and sat atop a granite promontory with a paperback. Far to my right, the lights of Stonington began to wink as the sun lowered. Far to my left the moon began making a long, wavery reflection across Merchant Row. I read a few Updike stories, finally clicking on the headlamp as mosquitoes came humming about. The stories continued in the tent until I could read no more, and lay back to take in the aura of moonlight overhead in the mosquito netting. The first lobster boat groaned past at exactly four o’clock.

In the morning: a quick dip in the chilly water, drying off after on the sun-warmed granite... the paddle home. I opened the gallery a few minutes late: the beginning of another hectic day that lasted well into the evening. Somewhere in the back of my mind though, is an island where it is still peaceful; every now and then it helps to go there for real.

One of these days, I'll get a new camera, but for now I've included a few shots from the archives.

Another sad footnote: yet another rec boat fatality off MDI last weekend. Read the story here.

1 comment:

Ken said...

This looks AMAZING! It is going on the list for doing ASAP.