Poem Project – entry #21 I’ve Been this Way Before
If you’ve been to camp, especially a camp where there are canoes, you’ve probably sung the song, My Paddles Keen and Bright. That song has been playing in my mind this past week while my daughter and her husband were on a trip in the Boundary Waters with my sister’s family. I’m sure they were not singing as they sweltered in the heat and humidity and tried to forget the swarming mosquitoes that bit ruthlessly through their clothing. But I was humming it as I sketched out a picture for a fabric poetry page.
I found myself thinking about how trips I’ve taken in canoes are similar to my journeys each year as a teacher. Like professional development sessions, my paddle has been measured to fit from my toes to my nose but it’s all in the grip, the turning of the blade and the length of the stroke. No matter how much I try to center my gravity, the first steps into the boat are tippier than I remember. As a camp counselor, I usually carried less competent canoeists with me for a while, slowly moving them from position of passenger to Bowman, practicing strokes with them until they were ready for a place in the stern of their own canoe. This year I’ll be working as a coach and mentor to other teachers and we’ll practice our practice together. Sometimes, I’ve had to get out and pull my boat along the shore. I remember one trip on the Hood Canal when the winds were so fierce we had to walk our canoes from one camp to the next. A second set of shoes would be a good idea…
So I’m packed, I think. I’m heading down to the dock and will loosen the rope on my canoe and set myself a course for another year….
…my paddles keen and bright, flashing like silver, follow the wild goose flight, dip, dip and swing….Eyes on water and sky, balancing my weight on wicker and wood, I lift the paddle and begin to stroke. The old rhythm and song pulse within me. I’ve been this way before.
A. Bacon entry for Slice of Life – check out more at Two Writing Teachers link (ps, I know I goofed and put the paddles on the same side of the boat but here’s some perspective, sometimes the paddler in the stern needs to paddle on both sides, mistakes in art allow for the divine to show up.)