Commentary: Paddling Through the Pandemic: Winter in Our Wake

Posted 4/20/21

By Fred MassieDuring the past year’s enforced isolation, I had and have the good fortune to kayak throughout the seasons in the local waters surrounding Touisset Point. Moving from board shorts …

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Commentary: Paddling Through the Pandemic: Winter in Our Wake

Posted

By Fred Massie

During the past year’s enforced isolation, I had and have the good fortune to kayak throughout the seasons in the local waters surrounding Touisset Point. Moving from board shorts to varying layers of neoprene and serenaded by my music library, I was and am a daily witness to and participant in our changing local drama.

Dreams bubble into waking hours. Effervescent morning meditations. Paddling above the water column, the past overspreads the present, and is, in turn, subsumed by the now. Aerial hieroglyphics, created by cirrus clouds and punctuated by contrails, configure the sky. And the water transforms in shape, texture and color at the whim of tide, current, wind, and light.

Tufted mergansers, skittish buffleheads, glistening mallards, flitting kingfishers and regal swans populate the marshes. Solitary loons bob and dive near the bell buoys marking Mount Hope Bay’s deep shipping channels, and the small dorsal fins of hunting striped bass circle.

Beneath the surface, in the shallows of the Kickemuit River’s mouth, red-beard sponges shiver in the current, and cold fingers of green seaweed reach upward. Clusters of blue mussels, grazing channeled whelks, and conjoined moon snails stud the drowned tidal flats.

Along the Bristol shore, a deer herd comes to the water’s edge for salt. Startled by some unseen intrusion, they bound away, white tails flickering amid the bare grey trees and brush. Over yonder, on the Fall Riviera, old factory windows glow gold and rose in the angled sun, and the silent spires of empty churches pierce the heavens.

Slicing through the occasionally ice-skinned Bay to Spar Island where sleek seals stare and slide off glacial boulders. Surfacing in the near distance, heads held high and sideways, turning for a final look before quietly disappearing.

Archipelagos of tiny, tidal sand islands float by, melting away into individual grains at the slightest touch. A grey and white herring gull lifts and drops a quahaug on the stony shore, descending to pull and tear at the exposed pink heart in the cracked shell.

An ever-changing headphone soundtrack rolls through rock, funk, soul, jazz, blues, country, electronic and a little classical music there, kids. All fading softly away as the hull touches the beach, marking another day, another season, another year, another life of sorrows and joys and wonder.

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