I KNEW HIM, HORATIO
Black Brady Beach, LOPEZ ISLAND Frank Sherwood sneaks up on his wife and fellow primitive skills instructor, Karen, as she briefs the coastal foraging class. He dumps an object into her hand, upturned mid-gesture. She gasps and chucks it.
A jittering white invertebrate limb, severed, waves from the pebbles.
As a vegetarian, I generally avoid corpses. OK, sure, dead critters are part of life's great cycle. But nothing I need to eat or fondle. And so, later, I step over the pink bulb of skull a seal's probably further along the cove. Six inches of spinal cord still jut from its nape, like an inverted question mark. ¿Que pasa?'
But Sergio, a firefighter from the O.C., lofts it in the air and flaps it like a puppet. Alas, poor Yorick...
Karen, beside me on the cliff, notes: "We try to balance education and aspiration, but allow time to wander around and pick up stuff on the beach."
And not just the littoral strand, it emerges. Rahul a British Columbian doctor and life coach has brought his handmade kayak.
Oh, man, I want...
My long-ago ex Matt Hagen crafted wooden kayaks, because he couldn't pack in enough risk as a photojournalist, rappelling off I-5 with clothesline under sniper fire and such. These beauties were the first I ever paddled all silken seduction on Lake Union, where I was nearly scalped by a floatplane and run over by a seven-story UW research vessel bound for blue water. Events like this tend to crystallize around Matt, who went off boat-building somewhat, after capsizing, dislocating his shoulder and almost drowning near Alki, while kayak-surfing in a gale.
(Rumor claims he's staggering a wine marathon with his lovely wife Betsey next, but I digress.)
Rahul's craft was born in a calmer environment. Up on Vancouver Island, his buddy instructs people how to stretch fabric over a cedar frame, then shellac it watertight.
"It's tippy," he warns.
I paddle into the bay. Rahul's kayak is a sweet number, sure. Responsive as a thoroughbred and with a fluid gait.
Yes. Yes, I really could endure one of these.
Let it bear me on its back a thousand times...
Check out the full seaweed-foraging story and shots in the The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on August 23, 2007.