Friday, October 1, 2021

Reflections on canal travel: Kayak across France.


Reflections fascinate me. They invert my world and offer me an alternative view. There is an above-surface world and another below: reflections appear as the latter. Across a motionless mirror, my gliding kayak creates a wake that visually buckles the virtual clouds.

Plane trees reflected in Canal du Midi at sunset

 When water moves, it animates the sleeping reflections, constantly scattering and reassembling the view.

Ripples make reflections jiggle.

If a city street shows me reality, then a canal offers me augmented reality. I catch the movement of a cloud, or a hawk, whether I look down or look up.

If a city street is reality, a canal offers augmented reality 

 There’s a reason we speak of times of contemplation as reflection. Reflections inspire contemplation, just as they offer a way to discover abstract art, both in still-life and as motion picture. When we stand before an abstract painting our eyes interpret what we see, discovering familiar shapes and returning to find they remain. But on the water, a breath of wind is sufficient to rearrange the patterns. The image constantly pulls back toward what it was, but so long as the effect of the wind lasts, it cannot reassemble. As the motion settles, the dancing patterns never repeat in the same way twice. I am not surprised when I find the animated reflection more interesting to watch than the view it inverts.

 Under rainfall, reflections shatter: the water-mirror becomes a maelstrom of intersecting, concentric-ring, ripples. As the surface mists with activity, the reflection of the falling raindrops becomes obscured by the frenzied bounce and jiggle motion. The reflections of larger, more distant, objects now appear glazed as if beneath a grease-smeared lens.


Reflections add depth to the view.

What a treasure, and such a pleasure, to float so close to the surface, so close to the visual dance.