The fog hung low, an ancient dance of water and air, as single file we slipped into the world beyond. Seven strangers, some familiar, but all new to each other, cross over the threshold together, from city lives of busses, and andhotel towels, and daily doses of depression on the evening news, into the sacred home the black and white creatures who dance behind my eyelids, egg jellies, bioluminescence and harbor seals. The kayak slips quietly through the water, the paddle kisses the water, sometimes with the grace of familiar lovers, kind “I love you” eyes and at other times, urgent, awkward like teenagers finding each other in the dark.
Annie leads the pack into the foggy abyss with steadiness and strength, her love and respect for the Southern Resident Orcas, tattooed permanently into her spirit. Gale and Hannah slip next through the silky fog curtain. Mother and daughter sharing a moment in time, their connection warm, secret and simultaneously inviting. Jay and Kelly disappear next into the world beyond. Quiet, reassuring touches between them, their kindness spilling onto others, inviting conversation.
Our boat is the last to part the fog. Silence, then distant horn, silence, then quiet dance of rain tiptoeing lightly over the water and across my cheeks- this is what joy tastes like. Andy sits behind me, humming “oh Christmas Tree.” The exuberance of rocky waters and surfing boat wake oozes freely from his kind smile.
Seven strangers, same familiar, but all new to each other, form a tribe for just one week, forever imprinting into each other’s footpath. As each thrown rock changes the course of a riverbed, they too change the bedrock of each other’s lives, permanent characters in this moment of shared time and space.
We are from Friday Harbor, , separate paths converging.
We are from fresh blueberries and steaming coffee.
We are from granola bars shared in the safe shadow of Sentinal Island, with Andy buoying our yellow armada to bull kelp, with Annie on lockout while a ferry passes.
We are from color coded dry bags and raccoons fighting over almonds.
We are from bright tablecloths spread over rocks, from perfectly curated meals to fascinate the tastebuds and nourish tired cells.
We are from two kind guides scrubbing dishes, charting safe passage, encouraging brave steps beyond and repeating patiently Island names with compassion as if the question is all at once new.
We are from tired shoulders, red wine conversations and easy laughter.
We are from curiously and adventure.
We are from lines of life jackets and rain skirts drying in the sun and labored exits from zippered tents.
We are from Texas, California, New York, Alaska and Washington- separate worlds, slipping into the fog one-by-one together.
-Erica Barton, 2019 - 5 day Kayak Camp guest