“Phillip with two l’s?”
“Yes. Nice to meet you. And this is Jon.”
“How’s it going, Jon?”
“Really good. Thanks for bringing out the sun for us, Phil.”
“Yeah, it’s a gorgeous day. Looks like you guys didn’t have to bring those life jackets after all, eh?”
“Oh well. They pack light.”
“Cool. Well, if you guys are ready to go, I’ll lead the way.”
Philip, with one l, had been patiently waiting for us alongside the quiet road hugging Petpeswick Inlet. Armed with sturdy gumboots, unflinching enthusiasm, and a well-equipped arsenal of stories he began blazing the jagged up-and-down terrain with ambitiously long strides. The precarious trail crossed a neighbor’s property, curved around a small cape, and—after a few tricky steps—broke up at a tiny beach of pebbles and uneven rocks wetted on and off by breathless waves. There, Philip began untying three kayaks while Jon and I debated how to pool the camera gear.
“So you guys have ocean-paddled before, right?” Philip sought to re-assure himself.
For leisure: yes. As far as work was concerned, this was a first. And it couldn’t have waited much longer. Long days of driving through New Brunswick’s foggy and snow-clogged backcountry roads, sojourns at unimaginative hotel chains, and scarring frustrations with recording technology had me clamoring for a relapse into raw adventure. There was no need to hurry—as our visit had been carefully planned around successive high tides—but it felt so good to be once again at eye level with the Great Outdoors that I felt an irresistible child-like urge to sprint to Phil’s house with a few long strokes. In moments I left everyone in my wake. Being able to hear nothing but my panting breath and the gurgling vibration of my paddle on the ocean surface energized me with serenity and clarity of mind. It was for moments like these that I cherished fieldwork.