Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It's always nice to get out on the water during a cold winter day. For one thing, if it's sunny and bright the day doesn't feel clammy and chill. For another, odds are it's been cold and rainy for the last while, so getting out is a nice change. And the bottom line is, paddling is a nice change from trying to bake Christmas cookies that just haven't been working out right this year.
The other day, sometime before Christmas, I looked out the window and saw there was little or no breeze disturbing the big willow tree in the front yard. Moments later, I was in my wetsuit and paddle jacket, pumping up my Dragonfly inflatable kayak.
Once down on Cadboro Bay beach, I looked out at the Chain Islets... or tried to. The horizon looked a little funny. Though the tide was not all the way in, the little islets were invisible, something that shouldn't happen when I'm standing on the shore. Great Chain didn't appear as big as it usually does. I squinted at the horizon, launched my kayak, and squinted at the horizon again from this new angle, eyes only about two feet above the water. It must have been a mirage! Usually when a mirage happens around here, on a bright day, the effect makes little rocks and islands on the horizon look taller, not shorter. Sometimes the horizon stretches to absurd amounts, or there are upside-down images of sailboats merrily sailing along on top of the real ones. But not this day; objects along the horizon were compressed and obscured instead.
I paddled along the shore past the little rock garden, Sheep Cove and Stein Island and out to Flower. Through the channel I could feel a breeze that had been blocked by the long bulk of the point, and I could see the light at Cadboro Point. The freight train was running, as the tide was coming in.
Hoo doggies, was the freight train running! There were standing waves visible here, four or five hundred metres away. I could see the waves curling and frothing, and it looked like they were about half a meter high. But wait a minute... that couldn't be right. Standing waves wouldn't normally be that high unless there was a much stronger wind than this breeze, blowing against the current.
It took a minute to remember the odd mirage I'd seen at the shoreline. This was another mirage! But now, it was acting more like the usual mirage, stretching an image at the horizon so the standing waves looked much higher than they actually were.
Probably. I wasn't about to paddle over there and have a good look from close up, not in my 8 1/2 foot inflatable when I was out on my own, no matter how good the weather. That was enough of an outing for one day, so I went back to shore. Made another batch of cookies that just didn't work right -- dry and hard -- but heck, it was still the holiday season, even so. Peace on Earth, goodwill to all.

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