It’s the time of year that I make a couple of trips a night out to the garage to
retrieve wood for the fireplace. Each time I turn on a solitary bare bulb in the
rafters to find my way to the woodpile. And each time I gaze up in those rafters,
through my steamy breath, at the brilliant red hull of my new ‘Fletcher’s Fancy’
canoe hanging cold in her hammock, now beside the decades-
Not that she’s a complainer, but a twinge of guilt enters the mind and winter suddenly seems a whole lot longer.
I’m struck by the grace and simplicity of this creature. If aliens found themselves looking up in my garage tonight, I sense that they would quickly conclude that this craft was in the wrong place. Further, I believe they’d have no difficulty realizing that its proper place was on a lake. No meaning would be lost if we replaced the phrase ‘fish out of water’ with ‘canoe out of water’.
The materials in this canoe are as much a clue to her use as the shape. In my mind, Kevlar, fiberglass, and aluminum in water are no match for the elemental combination of wood, canvas, brass, and urethane that Thelma and Randy have used to create the vessel above my head, not even close. No cold, sharp edges to cut into 92 year old hands that are still able to assist in lifting the scant 55 lbs of this canoe. Cane seats that support for hours. Curving hull that responds to novice and experienced alike. Modern stuff will never replace the traditional ingredients that Thelma and Randy are able to wrestle into these beautiful creations, as surely as metal and plastic will never be used to produce a child.
The cold of the garage seeps in, and returns me to the task at hand. Wood hamper filled, I reach to douse the bulb, but first, just one more peek into the rafters…