I get caught in the routine of my life. It’s a good routine, bounded by meaningful work, extravagant dinner parties, and too many books. What gaps there are are easily filled by the endless backlog of projects: harvesting and putting up fruit, readying the garden for winter, researching breads, business planning, house chores, etc. There’s always more to do, as you well know. No need to look elsewhere for ways to fill the hours. And so it is a startling pleasure to step out of routine and into the wider world, like stepping out into sunshine after a day spent indoors.
Last Saturday a friend texted just as market was ending to ask if I wanted to canoe the Nooksack delta. I usually turn down Saturday night invitations out of hand: parties, dancing, films, none can compete with the lure of a quiet evening at home. As market ends, I’m daydreaming about unfolding a heavy wool blanket under the long-needled pine in the back yard and sitting there with a book, notebook, and pen, with the smell of dry forest around me and the tree above, till the dark or cold force me inside. But the delta. All that sky and smooth water. That was different. “Yes,” I wrote back, ignoring the next customer. “What time do you want to leave?”
We parked by the side of the road and carried the canoe past No Trespassing signs and into the lazy river. The water slid, green and sunlit, between alder and willow. Ducks flew up before us. A beaver watched us pass, slipping silently under water when we circled back for another look. I listened to the dip of our paddles, the beating of duck wings, and the distant sound of airplanes.
When the forest opened into the delta it was almost sunset. The water was a glossy mirror to the sky. Here, a ten minute drive and a quick paddle from my house, with Bellingham just across the bay, we looked out towards Lummi, over luminous water under a luminous sky, and the whole world was made of light. This was better than any book under the pine tree. Better, even, than coming home to dinner on the table and a house full of friends. The delta filled me like a deep breath, and when I exhaled, the light remained.
See you soon.
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