Silence and a Kayak


The air is pure, crisp and clear as Fall begins. Daniels Lake is unusually glass calm. The sun reflects on the lake and the sky is blue. Not even a leaf rustles. Jim still sleeps after a long week of fishing, guests and work.

Dusty and I head down to the dock, stopping at the cabin for my life jacket.

IMG_0421 After seeing me off, Dusty will sit in a chair on the porch of the cabin until I return.

I turn my kayak over, flicking out a few of Nature’s loathsome creatures, slugs. I climb in,  and put my basket with camera and water bottle between my legs and  climb in. The kayak slides quietly in to the water. The cool air grazes my face and I breathe deeply.


Silence. It fills my senses and I listen…to nothing. It’s hard to find silence in today’s 24/7 connected world. I crave it. It fills me with peace and contentment. It convinced me to move to Daniels Lake, far from “the maddening crowd.”

The water is clear and I watch the spawning salmon, swimming slowly now, as their bodies turn bright red and the end of life nears. An undisciplined school of minnows swims by while a couple of hopeful rainbow trout look for salmon eggs.

I paddle lazily to the right of the dock, where the grasses grow, not quite ready to leave Dusty’s cove. A dragonfly hitches a ride, looking for mosquitoes. A head pops up out of the water. It’s Emmett Otter and the River Band.* I move left, they move right, the quartet of otters’ curiosity overrides caution and they follow me; then I follow them.


I paddle lazily on, still in Dusty’s Cove. So much to see, feel and smell. The conflicting world evaporates as each moment unfolds. A visiting pair of trumpeter swans swims gracefully by. An immature eagle swoops, and then settles in to watch the salmon, making plans for breakfast. Spawning time is theatre time and attracts a wide audience of critters.

I leave the cove and paddle to the middle of the lake, which is unusually still, and calm. I am the only one on the lake and I revel in it. I stop paddling and gently drift, absorbing the sun, water and air. Something startles a sky-is-falling family of mergansers that comically runs on the water.

A more sophisticated mallard family of 12 swims near shore.I paddle past the cove that holds children’s water toys, silent now. During the summer it is filled with the sound of happy children playing. We wave to each other when I paddle by. The little raft house with its wooden swing that putts out from shore is tied up now.    IMG_0854As I paddle past a small island with a single cabin, fullsizeoutput_14cda loon pops up next to my kayak. Gratitude comes with every breath. This small world is pure with only the beauty and ravages of nature not manmade disturbances.

It’s good to be away from the rest of the world. I am so lucky; it still takes my breath away.

The sun is warm and even though I only wear a thin long-sleeved shirt and life jacket, I’m a little too warm. I glide into a shady area and sigh happily when the cool breeze flows over me. I paddle on, watching, listening, and feeling the day. Nothing else matters.

After an hour, I paddle near shore curving around the end of the lake, pointing the kayak home. Near the dock, I glide close to shore, noticing the fall colours and the bright red wild currants. I put a few in my basket and think about transplanting them to my berry garden. Another loon pops up near me. I stop and watch him. I feel like the happiest person in the world. I am the happiest person in the world!

As I near the dock, Dusty comes down to greet me. I bring the kayak next to the dock pointed to my take-out point. I wear rubber boots so I can step in the shallow water instead of heaving myself onto the dock. This is my first time trying this alone with no one to hold the kayak steady.

I put my leg cautiously into the water. Hmm, a little deeper than I thought. I make the final move to get out and fall into the lake, drenching myself. Dusty sits and looks at me, trying not to laugh. IMG_8139I finally get myself to a standing position, climb out of the water and pull the kayak onto land. I squish up the hill with Dusty by my side, water dripping everywhere. I am soooo happy!


*Emmett Otter and the River Band—a much read out loud children’s book

Oh Alaska, 29 years ago I never even wanted to visit. Now, I never want to leave.


Silence and a Kayak

The New Normal

“Used to be’s don’t count anymore. They just lie on the floor til you sweep them away.”

Today I celebrate a victory. Inconsequential for the world, uplifting for me.

I started running in the early 1970’s and it quickly became my “cup of coffee and cigarette”, my solace, problem-solving and “calmer down”. Two surgeries on one knee over two years slowed me down, but I was ever so grateful when I could return to running and carefully planned my runs. I ran mostly alone, just for me. An early riser, out the door for a run, back for a shower and at work before 8am with a big smile on my face to the groans of colleagues who weren’t so inclined.

Moving to Alaska’s remote community, Dillingham, made running very challenging, little pavement, no shoulders and…….bears. It wasn’t until “The Women who Run with Salmon” started training together for the “Klondike Relay” that I started running again and my 13 mile run that started at 11:30pm was glorious with the sky filled with shooting stars and the Milky Way. For many reasons, especially health issues my running commitment fell off until I have settled in Nikiski.

I delayed starting an exercise well-being routine, including walking, meditation back/spine Qi Jong. Recently I started meditating again, but I didn’t make walking a priority and was too tired in the afternoon.

But today that changed, Determined to make it a priority I got ready this morning. I did a few stretches, noting thatmy right leg did not respond to calf stretches, but my left one did so I know I was doing them. I wore boots for support and the muddy road. Off I went, even timing my one mile planned walk. Along the way, my right leg started whining and complaining, but I did not listen and insisted that it come along. By the end my toes wouldn’t bend correctly in rebellion but I made it!! Funny, a mile in 23 minutes feels just as grand as a 13 mile run in the middle of the night!! A shower and grateful meditation followed. Who knows maybe sometime, I might even be able to slowly jog that mile!!


The New Normal

Rambling Meanderings I

Interstate highways are for the tightly scheduled. The destination is the journey. We have certainly done our share of these highways as we hurried here and there. But, now, the journey itself is the destination. I find the Interstates boring and too fast to study roadside scenery passing rapidly. Sometimes we have little choice, but I love the meanderings through the countryside.

It’s late afternoon and we need a place for the night and leave I-40 near Sayre to drive 30 miles north on a two lane road…. the brown winter grass is out of place in 77degrees. Stark tones of brown and black tree trunks give way to ever diminishing bare branches as they twist up to the sky until they became small twigs. The grass lands were farmed until the Dustbowl wiped out the farmers’ crops, then the banks foreclosed on the farms and the banks failed.

Hundreds of tall, white, stork-like windmills turn in the wind. There are so many of them on the roadside prairies and the occasional old wooden windmills looks out of place now…

a horse grazes in a dry, brown field… Angus cows are stark against the red soil and green winter grass…..a large flock of small birds take flight. So many things to see now and I’m alert and focused at the sights along the way…. Jim wants to get to the campground after a long day of driving and promises better meaderings when we continue the trip tomorrow. We negotiate a deal—I get one turnaround a day to photograph something that went by too fast. ….black cows, walk up a red soil lane, single file; a metal sign shows a cowboy leaning down to kiss a woman on her tiptoe;.a shiny, red pickup truck parked against a worn, grey building; a double wide trailer house still split down the middle though it has been there for some time;…..curved low oil pumps….a lone mailbox in the middle of the road….I wonder how many times it has been hit in bad weather….. …neatly plowed red furrows with tufts of green…rolling hills…the deserted Cheyenne golf club..

We turn into the Department of Agriculture Grasslands recreation area as the daylight fades. Not sure where to camp, we drive to the end, past the Dead Warrior Creek. A brown cow stands behind a red gate watching us. No one else is here in the nicely kept campground. Jim parks The Grey Panther by the Creek, with our very own ensuite bathroom and double trash bins nearby. It’s still warm and we wander down to the rickety dock on the creek. Silence. Beautiful Silence as the wind pauses. We leave the side door open and eat supper, wandering down to the dock to the sun setting over the water and the almost full moon rises.

As the soft, warm darkness surrounds us, a coyote calls, followed by a flock of geese arguing with each other on a small island in the water. In the Sprinter, we settle for the night….do you hear the owls?, Jim asks. I listen and hear the quieting hoot, hoot. ..and we sleep.

The next morning we watch the sun rise from the big window at our feet and Jim gets up to fix coffee and tea… I wait in bed, he slides open the door and I’m in the middle of an ad of a beautiful bed in middle of the outdoors, but warm and sleepy under the duvet….

It’s time to go and we meander down the road to I 40. Jim stops at designated places. I exercise my turnaround when we drove past a wooden cross on the right. The cross is inscribed at the top “44” down further, “1968-2012. Barbed wire spikes spread out like rays..,in the main pole holds carefully arranged colourful beads in a wire nest. On the ground below surrounded by weeds is a tire rim and a metal object like a large toy jack…. another smaller cross next to it I wonder…..


Down the road a broken down weathered building sits next to a red soil road. I step aside as a red covered tank truck lumbers by. Three red covered bottles lie next to each other in the soil…vines almost cover a window….the remains of a porch… after a hard day of farming did the farmer sink wearily into a chair, breathing in the night air…. did his wife answer the door in her faded housedress?..,the roof of the porch is scalloped….the hand made shingles are falling.

A ‘60’s BSA motorcycle sits on a post above a “Crandalls” sign on top of a faded “beware of dog” sign….broken down weather-worn buildings and deserted farm equipment on a small, nearby hill. Where did their dreams go?

Back on the road we continue to the Interstate driving through the small town of Cheyenne. But then I see a sign… and we turn right instead.

Rambling Meanderings I