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Regina Rohrs: First Place Creative

Baidarka

I had no idea that it would fly. That above all things, I can admit, still leaves me breathless at times. Never in my wildest could I have ever expected the velocity that was reached by the vessel that I created. That first rush as we skimmed through the waves, barely touching the surface of the water, or so it seemed at the time; the feeling was indescribable. A natural high. The fumes from a nearby diesel engine, or the joint I smoked earlier that morning could have contributed, but there was a natural high there too. I know it.

I compared the canoes and kayaks invented by various native tribes of Alaska and Eskimos, along with the animals hides used, driftwood, weight, size, and speed of each. Umaiks and curraghs, the baidarka was my final choice. The baidarka would be the canoe that would make my journey possible. I’ve been building these things since I was seventeen, but this one, this one was my match. It was perfect. A perfect union, or balance if you will; the two of us together.

I’ve wanted, no, dreamed of this for as long as I can remember. The craft to take me over open water, to wherever. To fall on shore, where so few have before me. My vessel, so small, light, able to dock in the most difficult of beaches, marshes, whatever. I’ve achieved my life’s ambition, with more then half my life ahead of me. Time to enjoy it. Most men would kill for that, wouldn’t they? To get exactly what they want out of their limited and altogether insignificant time here on this earth, and having the ability to say, “I’ve done everything that I wanted to do with the time given to me on this planet, and now I can die happy.” Sometimes I look down at my hands and shake my head in disbelief.

To wake up and sail, off into the sunrise. Off into the horizon, as horribly cliche as that sounds; I could do it if I wanted to. I’ve always been the independent type, as they call it. Not one to ask for help, or need people or company. And I don’t need them now. The baidarka, so small, and light, she needs no crew. Low maintenance, this is a woman that I can love. The only woman for me right now. Besides my two feet, two strong arms to rip on those oars, and things of little significance that I may need along the way (food, temporary shelter, green, and tools), it’s just me and her. The baidarka opened the world to me.

I’ve made my contribution to society, and maybe even make a mark in the history books as reviving canoe travel in British Colombia (or at least that was the purpose stated in my grant application to the Canadian Government) Not quite as grand a mark as that left by my father, but when have I ever been much of a comparison to my father, and who could make a mark as big as his anyway? His research as groundbreaking, controversial, and with the territory of scientific breakthroughs that could potentially make that which is described in science fiction novels a reality, spotlight comes whether you asked for it or not. Again, I’m no Freeman. That spotlight would blind the hell out of me. There’s no question about that.

People colonizing on asteroids. My father discovered a way for people to live in space by means of nuclear powered space shuttles, and I’ve created a canoe that could fly. Our gene pool is really something, looking at the two of us. My determination to stay as far away from civilization as humanly permitted has never allowed me to bask in the scientific spotlight like my father, but I respect him above anyone, and though I don’t know many, or not their names at least, that respect means a lot nonetheless. He said that the baidarka was beautiful. And I respect him for that.

The baidarka is my way out; an escape. I can get in and go. Get back to nature where things are reliable. Natural. Things are carried out as they should be, by what is deeply imbedded in their genetic material and chemical make up; animal instinct. Oaks produce acorns, squirrels eat the acorns, foxes eat the squirrels. Natural. Human Instinct is too complicated. And more often than not, deceitful as hell. Hence my almost complete segregation from society.

Attachment to people, personal relationships has never been a priority of mine. I keep to myself and those few that I find worth divulging my thoughts and feelings to. Note this is a rare occasion says the man that lives in a tree house and a canoe that he built himself. I sound like an absolute nutcase, don’t I? I guess that’s just one more reason that the baidarka and I make such a great couple. She’s constant, and all mine. She’s dependable, not like Maloff’s Mercury and its “blown headgasket”. And she definitely doesn’t think I’m a nutcase. She doesn’t question my logic, or why I am the way that I am, or criticize my way of life, or scorn that I have no wife or family and that I’m not getting any younger. She doesn’t bitch about the amount of rum that I consume. The baidarka doesn’t judge the fact that I feel better when I’m alone. This whole experience, and everything that she has given me is still something that I have trouble believing to be true. I still wake up and wonder where I am, or where I’m going that day. The possibilities, endless. I will be forever grateful. God, for the life of me, I really never thought that it would fly.

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