Self to Launch

Lake Dreams

The lens of Gaige’s camera had been turned one-hundred and eighty degrees to focus on his face, gripped in a cupped palm and extended out in front of him as far as his left arm could reach. 

“I’ll be pushing my new sixteen foot aluminum canoe into the water for the first time today.” He spoke directly to the glass orb protruding from the front of the camera. “First voyage, of course, means we need to do it properly.”

Gaige swivelled around and reaching out with his other hand, took the camera into a pinch between both sets of spidered fingers as he crouched towards a boulder holding court among the rocks of the beach.  He steadied the camera atop the boulder, nudged the focal aim of it towards the crimson red canoe sitting perpendicular to the lake, and then stood, bobbing his head once or twice as if checking his own reflection in the glass lens as he adjusted the fit of his canary yellow floatation vest.

“This is the new canoe.” He was speaking a bit louder now, pan his outstretched arm in a gesture towards the long boat. “And like any trusty watercraft, she deserves a proper name to send her off.”

To anyone watching the video later, Gaige would edit out the fumbling through the various bags on the beach and in the canoe, setting paddles just so in the frame, and the general walking around the beach organizing himself and his boat christening supplies. Those supplies included a miniature bottle of cheap fizzy alcohol, a spray-can of black paint and a simple floppy stencil he had etched out of cardboard with a penknife from his desk back at home.  Viewers would simply see his video cut towards a narrated montage of Gaige cracking the bottle crudely over the polished aluminum trim of the canoe’s prow followed by a close-up of the red stern as he held the stencil in place and sprayed some characters with the paint.

“I name this fine vessel, which will soon carry me down the winding North Saskatchewan River, Wander One.”

He peeled back the stencil to reveal the name “WANDER I” now roughly painted over the crisp red, a vague hint of stray black spatter drops in the shape of the cardboard stencil framing the words.

“For the next month I’ll be training here on the lake and — when I can — on the river itself. I have not spent any serious time in a canoe since I was a teenager and I have a lot of skills to build up before I start on my epic wandering canoe trip down river.” He said this to the camera which was set upon the bouler once again with a wide shot of the beach, lake, and Gaige standing in front of the canoe.

With a smirk and a salute he leaned into the crossbrace and heaved the boat from the beach, the sound of gravel scraping the aluminum fading into a plodding slosh of footsteps in the water as he climbed in and settled himself in the flat seat.