redux: “on a shore wind I drifted out”

Note: I find the world too much these days. I find what I’ve done in it, for it, insufficient. I’m burrowed away in my kitchen, quilting, and waiting for bread dough to rise. But a few minutes ago, I saw this little sculpture from Nunavut and remembered I’d written about it. In a similar mood, as it turns out. On this same day, 3 years ago.


After a run of stormy days, I see blue sky to the south, and pink light filtering through the Douglas firs to the east of the house. And just now, doing something else, I saw this little sculpture, a gift from someone long dead. It’s from Nunavut, created out of caribou antler, and it’s on a low table by a window. How many times I pass it in a day, never looking. But this morning I looked and saw the perseverance, the hard work, and (yes) the joy of this hunter in wild seas.

antler carving.jpg

So today I will remember this moment, seeing the small kayak, the whales, no matter what else is going on in the world — and that election just south of us does feel like the world, for the way it fills the newspapers, the airwaves, our conversations, our every waking moment, whether we want it to or not.

And I think over again
My small adventures
When from a shore wind I drifted out
In my kayak
And I thought I was in danger.

My fears,
Those small ones
That I thought so big,
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach.

And yet, there is only
One great thing,
The only thing.
To live and see in huts and on journeys
The great day that dawns,
And the light that fills the world.

–Song from the Kitlinuharmiut (Copper Eskimo), The Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-1924, compiled by Knud Rasmussen

2 thoughts on “redux: “on a shore wind I drifted out””

  1. What magic this beautiful piece holds. And I believe that’s entirely possible. Is touchstone the right word? Things that have the power to remind and centre and allow us to tap into our own cache of wisdom, our sense of what’s truly important, despite the sometimes madness of the world…

    1. Thanks, Carin. I think we need these touchstones right now. Or I do, anyway. An antler kayak, a Steller’s jay eating seeds on the deck as I type, a length of red cotton ready to cut into squares…

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