It’s a bright, sunny morning. The north wind freshens, sending diagonal ripples toward Old Hand’s stern as I gaze at reflected ovoid shapes meandering over the surface of Port Madison. The wavetops reflect the cobalt sky, while in the troughs, dark green falls into the depths.
Johnathan Raban, in his book, The Sea and it’s Meanings, says that the fantastic imagery of Northwest Coast Indian art is greatly inspired by this sight- their stylized abstractions emerged from long hours paddling through the Salish Sea Dreamtime. The ancient Northwest Coast artist first saw Thunderbird, Raven and Bear while in becalmed revery, gazing at the sea’s mirror. The bounded yet fluid shapes that contain and release their ovoid imagery are interwoven, like sinuous kelp, with the sea itself. The mythic Hamatsa (cannibal dancer) of the Kwakiutal was descried on that insubstantial realm between surface and depth where images flicker and vanish. This is the intermediate realm between wakefulness and dream. Some of the masks came originally from the deep, while others descended, exact prototypes of masks we see today, from the sky.
Things are quiet in Port Madison. I spend a lot of time watching the Canadian Geese. The other day I witnessed a flock on Reah’s bulkhead repel an alien siege from another group who also desired the choice spot. Perhaps a rabble-rouser was after a female that was serenely perched on one leg under the cherry tree. The invading bunch first tried to look casual as they eased up the old boat ramp. But the locals charged down on them, their beaks lowered aggressively. This was, of course, accompanied by a god-awful din. Always something. They should have a reality TV show.
Then there’s the goats. They would eat my studio if I let them. When I show up they give me this interrogative look, as if I had the answer for their goatish angst. Maybe I am projecting- anthropomorphizing. Try pronouncing that, goats.
Today is clean the goat-shed day, a task to rival Hercules’ distasteful trial.
But I shouldn’t complain. I am ever grateful for the blessed gift of this lovely place, thankful I have found a home in this peaceful harbor.
Here’s a goose video I shot of a diving lesson, a big step in the life of any chick. Sorry for the quality. You can see the little guy on the big rock below the woodpile. The parents on the right call to him with encouraging honks.
Takes me back to my own first leap into the sea. But that is for my next McWhirr story.