Monday, November 30, 2009

Thank your paddle

There's paddling information everywhere!

I've been reading a book called Transporters: Contemporary Salish Art. It's published by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. This is a terrific read, with strong and beautiful images. If you're living in Victoria, you can go read the copy at the Greater Victoria Public Library. If you live somewhere else, go ask your local public library to get a copy. Hey, get yourself a copy online or at your local bookstore.

It's hard to imagine a book on Salish Art that wouldn't mention boats and paddling on the local waters. And this book has some brilliant moments. Among these moments are names for four different kinds of canoes, in the version of the Salish language spoken on the Saanich Peninsula, SENĆOŦEN (pronounced Sen-chah-then). It's hard to type SENĆOŦEN words on a standard English keyboard, because some of the characters are different.

There are two words defined in the text of the book Transporters that are very appropriate for paddlers to know. I'll quote them directly from the book, using the glossary written by STOLC/EL-, John Elliot. The first word is:
This word has a very big meaning and refers to wherever you go in your canoe to hunt, fish, and sustain your life. This is where beliefs, knowledge, and environmental laws are passed on. This is related to cultural survival and maintaining relationships to ancestral lands and sacred responsibilities.

Now that's a word I needed.
And the second word is:
The moon of December. This is the time to thank your paddle and put it away. Talking to it like a reliable friend, thank your paddle for taking you where you needed to go for your life. Tell it that you will return soon to pick it back up for travelling back to sea, to your S,IST

As December begins, both of these words are in my thoughts and on my mind.

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