Yesterday several of us went kayaking with the Bishop in the waters of Dayton Harbor and Semiahmoo Bay. We all managed to return safely to shore, all of us a bit wetter and all of us tired and happy. I’m sure my shoulder muscles will remind me tomorrow. There’s something about being out on the water, floating on the one biggest component of our bodies, the lifeblood of the planet and the context of our births. Water can sustain and it can drown. It can refresh and it can reflect the sun’s rays so that you sunburn your nostrils. It lubricates and polishes.
Floating is unstable and for that, mobile. The gentle rocking of the wavelets or the slapping of a motorboat’s wake, the wind’s effective pressure on your upper body and the tide’s pressure on your paddle, all remind you that to stay in one place you have to keep moving. And even if you manage to stabilize your location, the stuff floating beneath you remind you that the place you are in any moment is not the place you are in the next. The fragile plastic hull beneath my seat is all that separates me from 45° water that can reduce me to hypothermia in minutes.
And yet it is the source of food and livelihood for dozens of harbor seals, sea ducks, shore birds, and Bald Eagles. The salmon that constitute the bread of heaven for the sea creatures sustained a cannery for nearly 80 years, one of the largest in the world. Now the salmon left sustain the wildlife that so many of us enjoy watching. I think I ate salmon every day I was there.
They say (whoever “they” are) that World War III will be fought over water. If so, we will be fighting for life itself.