Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Timely Reunion

Two wonderful and timely reunions took place these last few weeks that reaffirmed everything I am doing this for.

To the hills of New Hampshire, the first reunion was to see Nate and Tim, of the initial four canoes builders (along with Daryl) of the strip canoe in Wisconsin. Nate, the land steward of Glen Brook Camp was in the process of building his next canoe, using a restored woodworking shop erected in 1776 by a revolutionary.

Poor lighting and hardwood in Nate's boat shop.

In a dark basement surrounded by the New England north woods, his cedar strip canoe, piece by piece, is coming to life. We sit in the warming shed at night on the camp's lake and share stories of our previous beauty. Nate's clear headedness and even pace combined with Tim's determined speed on a project and outright perfectionist intensity always inspired me. But this new boat is the next level.

Taking everything we had learned before, Jim's wisdom, countless hours working hard, our invaluble mistakes, Nate is striving for the best work possible. No glue is spilt, the grain of the wood is chosen for its exact design and color in each place of a strip, nothing is done in a hurry, nothing is done half-ass. I am humbled and honored to have worked with these great friends. It was a fresh breath of air in a past moment in life.

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) was the location of my second reunion of sorts. More than five years ago I first came to the museum's central lobby with my friend Dana on a scholarship lobbying for climate change policy on the hill. I was awed and inspired by the collection of traditional canoes that were displayed. Reed, bark, dugout, kayak (canvass), first showed me how global the canoe tradition was.

When I first lived and worked in D.C. two years ago, Daryl and I came back to the museum to visit the same display. We knew a little more only to know how much smaller our bits of inquiry were.

Just recently, another reunion with NMAI brought me together with a group of builders and cultural preservers from Guam, who had a traditional canoe, or Proa, in that lobby. We quickly connected and shared ideas and I was inspired by these craftsmen's work. A wonderfully woven sail, and intellegently designed hull, among other features, deeply impressed me. My new friends from Guam, Ton and Daniel, I'm sure will be friends into the future. Going to NMAI has become a tradition for me, and in tradition there is always more to learn.

The TASI members with their Proa
On Monday I finally leave for the global journey of the Watson Fellowship. I am ready. It's time to explore, and find in the expression of my passion what I see as truely meaningful and important. Next time you hear from me, I'ttl be from the Peruvian environs with tales of adventure yet to be heard.

NMAI's canoe from Titicaca in Peru

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to seeing you first blog from Peru!