Another ordinary winter day here. Walked the dogs and realized that it was not windy, not raining, and not 5 minutes before we had to be someplace else. Quick pot of porridge for both of us. Got into the shortie wetsuit and carried the Mini-Tripper down to the shore. A leaden grey sky as the sun was rising promised me that rain and wind would soon be here.
Today's SPOT OK message was sent from the beach at Gyro Park. I did go farther than that, honestly. But as I walked down the boat ramp, a sweet old lady engaged me in conversation. She seemed really concerned that I had a proper grasp of safety.
As regularly happens, my tow rope, throw bag of floating rope, waterpump, and PFD were all inspected. (My paddle float was with the other set of safety gear for my darling Eliza sea kayak -- no need for a paddle float with this little rec kayak.) The design and merits of the kayak were discussed and compared with other boats; not, I hasten to add, because my inspector had any expertise in the matter, but because she wished to be reassured about my own experience and competence.
The last thing I want during these outings is to have fussing shorewalkers panicking and calling 911. Well, okay, the last thing I want is to drown a hundred feet offshore while five dogwalkers try to call 911 on their cellphones (and cuss if there's no signal) and a couple of horrified ancient onlookers have heart attacks or strokes watching me. A close second is not drowning, but flailing my way ashore only to press the Emergency button on my SPOT for the heart attack victims. So I guess not wanting people to make an unneeded emergency call comes third on my list of Things I Really Don't Want To Happen While Kayaking.
The first item that Bernie expected would be on that list -- No Spiders Crawling On Me! -- already happened once, between Flower Island and Jemmy Jones Island. Louise reported that she was wondering why I'd popped my skirt and was scrabbling around inside the Eliza, until she hear me babbling, "Out! Everybody out! You are not my spider friend! You can swim for all I care!" At least, that's the babble that's repeatable in polite company.
All the other spiders are my spider friends, as far as I'm concerned, like the big one who rode along with Bernie and me on my first crossing of Baynes Channel to the Chathams, on a cold January morning. It wasn't until the kayaks were back in the yard and I was tidying the gear that this particular spider crawled out from under my kayak seat, shivering, and asked "Are we done yet?" I was so grateful that the big hairy spider had not crawled on me when we were half-way across the channel, that I carefully picked it up with two sticks (BIG spider, eh?) and put it in the garden. Good spider. My spider friend. *shudder*
As for this morning, it took some conversation to show the concerned passer-by that she didn't have to engage the help of a couple of joggers to save me from a reckless expedition. When she asked if I had a way to contact people, I showed her the SPOT device and pressed the OK button.
Eventually she went on her way, much less concerned. I paddled along to the little rock garden and began doing a figure eight around the rocks. Just then, a river otter popped up and down several times. Then he swam to the largest rock and climbed ashore with something in his mouth, maybe a fish or a crab. Clearly it was something tasty, as he began tearing off mouthfuls. He looked in my direction after a few moments, so I quickly averted my face. (I think animals feel more threatened when we look directly at them. Sometimes they don't mind if I peek once in a while with a sidelong glance out of the corner of my eye.)
Apparently it was breakfast time for the otter here, and not my turn in the rock garden. I kept rocks between us and beat a hasty retreat back to the shore. The breeze was just starting to pick up.
A few raindrops fell as I put the kayak away. Some teenagers on a bottle drive came up the driveway and asked if we had any empty bottles. So I plodded across the wet yard with some of ours. The puddle in the front yard is colder than the ocean this time of year. But at least it washed the sand out of my sandals.
It's a rainy, breezy morning now, just right for using my computer. I'm tucked under my years-old sleeping bag, editing the page proofs of my next book. Look for it from Rosen Publishing in the summer of 2012 -- Fish: From The Catch To Your Table, part of the series The Truth About The Food Supply. You can find lots of my other books from Rosen there.