It’s not too often that you start your day paddling an outrigger canoe with five other people in Shoal Channel, off the Sunshine Coast. It’s not every day that you watch the sun climb above snowy peaks and inhale views to the rhythm of tribal chants. It’s not the norm to rise and shine with birds and seals, with ducks and fish.
But there we were, in a Canada canoe – soaking the sun, waking the water.
And this was the start to our day, today. This morning near Gibsons. Who knew?
I trace it back to a simple string of events:
- About 2 years ago, I saw a game of curling on tv.
- I felt fascinated and wanted to learn more.
- I promptly forgot the fascination and proceeded with the usual routine.
- About 2 weeks ago, I saw a curling club on my drive home from the tiny town of Gibsons.
- I went home, found the club’s website, discovered that they give free intro lessons, and emailed for information.
- I communicated a bit with Kate, who gave me the scoop, and I marked my calendar.
- I went for a wonderful free lesson and chatted more with Kate and Dave.
- One thing led to another…
…and this weekend I bartended for the bonspiel.
…and this morning I’m paddling with the crew.
Listen, this morning when I woke up, I didn’t even know paddling meant. I figured there’d be a kayak or a canoe (or a board?) and that somehow we’d be on water. I knew they were handing out life jackets and that I shouldn’t dress too warm. I kept on the lookout for the Gibsons Landing Inn and some sort of parallel parking. But there you go, that’s it. Other than that, who knows.
And so there I was, at 7:45am, walking along Gibsons Marina, searching for who knows what.
And turning the corner, I see about a dozen friendly faces dotted underneath two canoes, heading for the water. I was immediately welcomed into the group, fitted with a life jacket and a paddle…given a quick lesson on paddling and how not to rock the canoe – and off we went!
My first time as a paddler was a hilarious sight to see, I’m sure. I was told to dip the paddle deep in the water – at about the location of the paddler in front of me, to pull the water with enough force so that it might actually help move the canoe, to remove the paddle from the water at the back of the stroke at just the right time, angle, and height…all in time with the other paddlers while in the middle of one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life. A complicated set of steps that resulted in a great deal of splashing (“raining”) and required an inordinate amount of patience from the other paddlers.
They were a very tolerant group!
It was an absolute joy to sit in front of the now retired Staff Sergeant Ed Hill of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who taught me some basics and hurled friendly reminders when I was off course (the whole time). He told me some history about the area and about his own involvement in organizing, since 1997, canoe journeys for RCMP officers and First Nations peoples. The journeys continue today and have expanded to include a wide range of public service agencies and Aboriginal peoples, with the mission to enhance understanding and strengthen relationships through collaborative canoeing (you can read about it more here: http://pullingtogether.ca/). It was a beautiful treat to hear Ed sing Squamish tribe chants that were created years ago to give paddlers energy after many hours and dozens of miles. To watch the paddles move to the beat and to hear the paddlers grunt like bears.
And to end the whole experience at the local café, surrounded by companions, kindness, and conversation.
What a wonderful way to start the day; who knew that it could be? 🙂