~ Out of Nowhere ~

© Margaret Emerson
Published in Qi Journal, autumn 2007

     Easy, unhurried ripples fan out from the bow as my kayak glides across the surface of the lagoon. I’ve spent a good portion of my life in water and I’m impressed with what an efficient swimmer a kayak is. Surely this rhythmic paddling is an example of what the Chinese call wu wei or effortless effort. Above me the sky is a vast blue with occasional streaks of white that make it all look as if it’s arcing toward the western horizon. There is almost no wind and I can hear the intermittent crash of waves beyond the spit. Following the scalloped shoreline in order to be close to the big firs and redwoods, I spook a great blue heron that takes off in front of me, pumping its wings in slow motion. I pass small flotillas of coots and ducks and the more cautious ones decide to leave. I laugh when I realizefor the first timethat the slapping noise is not the beating of their wings against the water but the rapid pushing of their webbed feet. For a few seconds they’re sprinting on water. Eventually I pull up in a small, secluded inlet to eat a sandwich and drink hot peppermint tea from my thermos. Bliss. It’s early February, yet northern California has given me the perfect day for kayaking. I do not want to go home.

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P.O. Box 16, Bayside CA 95524
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