Friday, October 27, 2006
Yesterday I left work early for the first time in ages.
I decided to spend the last sunny, warm day I could count on to oil gunwales on my canoes. It was a little over 50 degrees but the sun made it feel a little better...and the wood soaked up my special elixir with a little help from the hair dryer. My special elixir sounds a little suspect, I bet, but there's just linseed oil and beeswax, no snake oil or anything. It does make your hands smell good after hand-rubbing it into your wood gunwales.
I also took some time to paint a paddle with some funky patterns I learned from my friend, Aaron York, an Abenaki Algonquin from Quebec. It's not high art, but it was a good time. I also baseball stitched a few leather paddle grips on a new paddle I just got so when I pry off the gunwales it doesn't dent the paddle or the gunwale.
My wife thought it was strange that I would spend a beautiful day oiling dry gunwales when I could have been on the water. Maybe, but for some reason it just felt like the right thing to do; just putz around in my driveway with some canoe that needed a little extra love...or a lot in the case of one boat. The wood was gray as death, and after a little coaxing with a cabinet scraper and some sandpaper, clean, white ash appeared under the shroud. Then I started spreading the magic elixir...what a great afternoon...I wish I had more canoes to oil.
ED. NOTE. It is my hope that this blog is a way to tie the many outdoor communities that I visit every summer together. I visit 50+ paddle shops each summer and am always privileged to learn a little bit about how that community lives plays and works.
Each retail shop is a kernel that these communities center on and radiate from, so if you want to find the cool things in those towns you go to the shops, work hard, make friends and eventually the people let you in on some of the better things to do in their towns. IE the best singletrack, the quickest cool paddle or the ski trail that nobody knows about, and then maybe the best pub in town when it is all over. In the big picture we are all one large community, it starts with the town, then goes to the region, then goes to the Midwest, then goes to the overall outdoor community at large..... This is the first blog in a series that hopefully will bring in some great personalities from across the Midwest paddle and outdoor community.