Sunrise prayer service at Lake Caballo
Monday morning this week I managed my first paddle in two months.
The ever present desert spring winds were quiet at this time of day, the lake a horizon-mirroring Rorschach test punctuated by the splash, ripples and bubbles of jumping fish.
I chose the smallest of my vessels, the 8 foot Spitfire Emotion (aka Plastic Bathtub Toy), but even so wrangling this little Basuto Pony of my stable of water horses onto and off the truck, was still the most challenging part of the escapade. I've been practicing driving stick shift for a week or two now so that part was a breeze. Luckily the lake is currently really high, its volume swollen with a belly full of snowmelt and no irrigation release until June.
I was welcomed to the launch site, a beach just south of the Lake Caballo State Park boat ramp, by the exquisite perfume of Datura wrightii, (aka sacred datura or moonflower), the huge, flawless blooms lifting their throats to night pollinators in the dawn twilight, under a just waning big moon.
The broken arm held up well, supported by a new brace to encourage more thumb movement, and a compression glove. I also didn't push myself and only spent about forty minutes on the water .
Wind and water conditions couldn't have been more placid or more beautiful.
In retrospect, though the kayak I chose is the smallest and thus lightest for loading, it is a stubby, stocky little thing, probably the most headstrong of all my vessels, and can be somewhat challenging to keep on course. Caballo lake, being an irrigation reservoir formed from and on the Rio Grand, expresses its river nature, especially in spring runoff season, in a strong southern flow pulling ultimately toward the Gulf of Mexico.
The red Spitfire balked a bit at being put nose into the current. I did miss the responsiveness of the yellow Scrambler from Ocean Kayaks, whose hull was designed by a surfer to really ride the water and not bob around on top of it. The Scrambler, however, at 13 foot, is more complicated to load one handed. It is also thirty years old. I'm scared that if I drop it, it will burst apart.
The sun didn't waste time turning the landscape gold, illuminating tamarisks in full pink bloom against that bluest of blue cloudless desert sky.
The moon, now low on the horizon, welcomed us back to shore, and the enchanted scent of datura again.
On the way back home I found myself thinking about presence, receptivity and word wrangling, the bumper sticker on Janis truck (gifted me by an Oregon children's librarian and passionate paddler), doors of perception and "doorway(s) into thanks" as Mary Oliver puts it in her poem "Praying"
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.