Uplifted

My neighbor invited me to go kayaking the other day.  It’s one of the things I’m pursuing more since I decided to work fewer hours.  I love kayaking.  Though it is an excellent workout, there’s no need to go fast.  No matter what the weather is like, it’s always beautiful because you are floating, a leaf upon the water.  Sea kayaking is my favorite.  Waves are no bother.  A long, thin shape cuts right through them.  You can choose a size and type of boat to fit your intended purpose.  Kayaks can be made so stable that you can fish and dive from them, or add a sail and pontoons.

The meaning of the word is matter-of-fact.  In the language of the Inuit it means “man’s boat” or “hunter’s boat”.  When Europeans first encountered the Inuit, they were mystified at how to measure for building a kayak.  Each one was different.  It’s because originally they were made by men to fit their own bodies.  The correct size would be three times the length of the outstretched arms, the width of the hips plus two fists, and just deep enough for the pelvis.  Where there was wood, it was used for the skeleton of the boat.  Where there was no wood, they used whalebone.  Over the bones of the boat, they stitched the skins of seals.

Modern kayaks are often made of modern materials like plastic or fiberglass, though some beautiful ones are made of wood using tribal and traditional methods.  There are inflatable ones, and folding ones designed along the old skin-on-frame idea.  For warm water, there are self-bailing kayaks called “sit-on-tops” that can be shaped for surfing.  In colder waters you need one with a porthole to put your legs inside.  I’ve owned and used several kinds.

Nomadic hunters invented kayaks.  Their use was integrated into their way of surviving.  I don’t have to hunt food to survive.  I hunt for inner peace.  The boat is small enough to feel like an extension of my body.  When I enter the water, there are no roads.  There is no traffic.  There is only the flow, the lift, and the endless horizon.  I’m unborn and buoyant.  The womb is wide enough to encompass the sky.

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14 Comments

Filed under photos, symbolism, Travel

14 responses to “Uplifted

  1. Can you believe there is a Kansas Whitewater Association?
    I can’t think of any rivers here with even a touch of clear-running “whitewater”.
    I guess they must travel a lot. Also see this:

    http://kansasmediocrity.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/missouri-river-340-worlds-longest-canoe-race/

    • When I went to the KWA site, it looked like they radiate out from KC to rivers and creeks where there is whitewater, including the Kansas River and a freestyle hole in Lawrence. That’s the speedy kind of kayaking, in short boats made for ease in turning. Kind of the opposite of why I use them, but that’s fine for those who paddle for a thrill. I would never enter a race, though I might enjoy watching. The variety of boats shown in your article was impressive. Thanks, Tracy.

  2. lifewith4cats

    My hubby and I just started kayaking this summer first time. Now I am trying to learn how to sneak up on fish so I can watch them. Though often I see cool stuff in the water, and want to stop to look, but the boat is still gliding forward. ;)

    But I’m getting the hang of it more each time I go. I saw whale tails in that video. That must be something awesome to see at sea level. Oceon kayaking seems much more difficult than freshwater. All those waves?

    • I think whitewater kayaking in rapids or falls is the hardest. It’s the roughest, fastest water, and you have to roll under and do all kinds of turns. Sea kayaking is not so hard, as long as you have the right kind of boat – long and thin. It allows you to “track” straight through waves. I have never capsized, except when I did so on purpose during a safety training course. You can always stay near shore and go up and down the coast until you feel more confident. It’s cool that you can share this with your husband!

  3. Beautiful thoughts and post. I am glad to hear that you are working less and finding time to “hunt for inner peace” and enjoy yourself more!

    How are the dogs? Inquiring minds want to know!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Debbie. I’m glad you liked the piece. We have been working with various dogs and mentor-trainers in preparation, and will be receiving our own lab puppy in a little less than two weeks. Of course I will post photos and write about her!

  4. I love water, I would have been a sailor if I could have. I was too short, but that is another story.

    I can see you loving this hobby.

    • I’m a bit short for hauling adult-sized sails myself. Fortunately, if you can hold a paddle (or be seated with someone else who can), this way of boating can be enjoyed. I’ve been in double and triple kayaks with either a lot of gear or a non-paddling passenger. The Inuit built large ones and would stash Mom and a child below decks! Once you get four or more paddlers the horsepower increases enough to require a pontoon for stability, and the vehicle becomes an “outrigger”. Thanks, Robyn.

  5. In a former life, I worked on the salmon boats in southeast Alaska. In the evening, sometimes we would go kayaking. There was so much phosphorus in the water that dipping the paddle through the water created millions of tiny green lights that swirled in the water and dripped off our paddles. It was magic.

  6. Out of curiosity, when you go into the history of something, how much is based off direct research for your entry and how much is tidbits you have picked up over time? I always enjoy the varied lessons here.

    • Oh, it varies Tim. I’ve had a lot of kayaking experience, but I looked up things like where the word came from. Sometimes I know more from experience. Sometimes I have to do more research. I’m glad you liked it. I intentionally try to combine many sources.

  7. Another wonderful post, and such wonderful pictures too :)

    • Thanks, Anna. It’s easy to take pictures with a cell phone. (I hated lugging cameras and lenses around in the old days.) The Inuit hunter is a public domain historical photo.

      I’ve been having the opposite kind of experience to the post today. I bought a car rack for kayaks, and it has taken me hours to put it together and install it. I am not “handy”.

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