Monday, May 6, 2013

Simplicity and romance metaphors

Our last blog post! After 14 weeks of adventure narrative reading and writing, I truly can’t believe we’ve made it this far. Not to sound cliché. I guess I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.

Although I’m only about 2/3 the way through Fredston’s Rowing to Latitude, 200 pages have given me a pretty solid grasp of the text. First off, I’d like to know what qualifies a book for the “National Outdoor Book Award”; I can’t deny the quality of Fredston’s writing, but I often find her anecdotes and stories of her Arctic travels a bit repetitive. Perhaps the warm weather has begun to fry my attention span. Each trip seems to contain the same elements: wildlife sightings (bears, whales, sharks), crippling winds, impenetrable ice sheets, seemingly endless miles covered, and rather tacky love metaphors. After the first few chapters, my attention began to waver.

Back to the romance metaphors—an example:  “I fell in love with Doug the same way I learned about avalanches: in small increments, by observation, by discovery, by a series of small surprises” (43). Not to digress. But again, “Our intimate collaboration feels a lot like sculling. To keep the boat moving in a reasonably straight line, we must stroke separate oars as one” (47). I could go on.

While I easily criticize a variety of aspects of Fredston’s storytelling style, she incorporates messages and implications in her writing I find quite thought provoking. For instance, when reflecting on the introspective aspects of rowing, she writes, “How can I explain that I treasure these trips for the focus that comes with simplicity?” (62). Her comment reminded me of the time in my life when I feel I lived the simplest—my semester abroad in East Africa. Devoid of most modern conveniences of technology, my simple existence immensely heightened my sense of awareness and focus of in-the-moment living. Her reflection, along with my own application of the sentiment to my own life, enabled me to better relate to her emotions while rowing.

Something I forgot to mention—my high school experiences as a coxswain for my school’s crew team slightly alter my perceptions of Fredston’s narrative. I very strongly disliked being a coxswain. Perhaps my numerous memories of long hours on the water in the freezing cold subconsciously taint my view of Fredston’s stories.

The end of my last blog post! To say I am feeling sentimental is an understatement.

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