16 Aug, 2007 ICEBERGS AND WIND

Woke to an ideal calm morning. Perfect. My goal to paint an iceberg for the first time, and to do this from the 16’ canoe that I had brought along, was looking great.

Why from a canoe? I’ve always loved canoeing, and years ago I began combining that with my painting back in Ontario. This has provided me with the opportunity to bring different perspectives to many of my canvases. The canoe also allows me to explore my subject in a quiet, immersive way, lending a sense of magic as I float about. Getting a regular hard body canoe up here is a difficult and expensive proposition. And even once it would be here, there would be the issue of moving it around on the water.

So instead, I reached into Billy’s cabin to pull out a duffle bag that contained the makings of a 16’ tandem Pakboats canoe. Having discussed this challenge with the company’s founder Alf, he thought it was a compelling opportunity and graciously shipped one up to my home in Caledon before I left for this journey.

After assembling it on the beach for the first time, which would have taken a little less time if I had read through all the instructions first, I gave it a test run. Handled great. Being far away from the icebergs at this point in time, we threw it up and across Billy’s boat and headed out to check the conditions further out. There I could drop it in from a nearby shoreline and proceed with my plan.

The problem with nice quiet water is that it is deceiving at times. So quiet it in fact that I allowed myself to be lulled into a sense of relaxation, and I lolly-gagged through the morning. I should have known better. It was just after lunch by the time we approached the icebergs, and the early calm had been replaced by waves that made the idea completely unsafe. Already missing my wife Janet and my girls Sydney and Andie greatly, I passed on an attempt that I could only see ending with a nasty swim in the frigid Atlantic Ocean and a loss of gear, and who knows what else. After all, I did tell the girls that I would be safe. And besides, maybe it would calm down later. It didn’t.

That didn’t completely spoil my goal of painting however. We returned later on that evening, and rollicking atop the deck of Billy’s boat cabin, I managed to begin my first iceberg painting as the sun peeped out a little to show off the incredulous colour and forms of the masterful ice sculpture before me.

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