Standing in my garage come boat shed surveying the pile of kayaking kit. Warm stuff, waterproof stuff, float me the right way up stuff. Paddles, spray deck, never to be used (I hope) emergency kit. All ship shape. Off to work. The last full weeks guiding and coaching for Kayak Bute and the 2011 season.
But what of those who are to be my paddle companions for the weeks adventure. What of their journeys? They will have traveled across physical landscape and political border. From Scotland, England, Ireland, North America and other places besides. During their journeys first tentative thoughts about an introduction to sea kayaking will have echoed. The decision to travel the miles to meet their guide and leave the familiar reflected in their minds. The introduction to their kayak to be considered.
What I know of these women and men is that their journey is far greater in scope and vision than my own. For they have never traveled by kayak before.
Their progress will be at a rate I can never match. They will move from being with the kayak as stranger to a bond of friendship and trust. As muscles are used, patterns emerge. As the days progress these beginning kayakers will find the boat and blade all the more a natural extension of themselves. They will come to that magic of stillness where strange connections connect.
Vulnerability and purpose. Pride in their new skills and prowess, humbled in the face of the sea around. And by the beauty of the ancient Inuit hunting boats which inspired the superb kayaks we build and paddle to day.
When they leave and their introduction to sea kayaking is ended they will be different. They will be different as they journey back. The boundary lines they crossed will once again be traversed. Back to homes, loved ones and the world of work.
How much richer will they feel as they take their kayak time on that homeword journey? As they reflect and share their stories in the days and weeks to come. And what journeys and stories has our own season written on the the landscapes of our mind I wonder?