Saturday, May 3, 2014

Life and Death among the seals

I was really struck after reading the last passage in Kayaking Among the Ice Children which stated, "To my left, out in the inlet, I heard the breathing of the killer whales as they moved back down the inlet.  Some seals had surely died, just as the moose might die that night.  In the far distance, there was the faint thunder of Shaw-whad-seet's children, of the new land being born"(pg. 257).  What I found interesting about this passage, as well as this chapter, is the cyclical nature of life and death, and death and rebirth present.  The story begins with Tim and Paul kayaking through Glacier bay when they are set upon by a pod (pack?) of killer whales hunting for seals.  They comment on how they could be mistaken for seals and that some of those seals were probably going to die that night.  Tim then goes into the back story of the native people who lived in the area who say that Shaw-whad-seet sacrificed herself to the ice, and that to this day the new slabs of ice that break of the glacier are her "children" being born (death, rebirth).  He then recounts the rest of their kayaking journey, ending with the above passage which brings it back life and death, such as the seals being hunted, and then they listened to the sound of new ice children being born.  Now the kicker of all this is that I believe that adventure mimics or follows this cycle of life and death.  Adventures such as mountain climbing or kayaking in this case, bring the adventurer close to death, even if they are not consciously aware of it, and then bring them back into relative safety.  This happens with what Tim and Paul encountered with the killer whales; they were initially fearful for their lives as the pod went by them, but after the whales moved on, they could step back (metaphorically) and appreciate what had happened.  Thus, besides recounting an exciting experience, I think that Tim is really trying to get across to the reader is that adventure is like the cycle of life and death, that each moment could be your last, and it makes you appreciate your life all the more once the danger has passed.  I think that is especially true in this last passage.  

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