On an afternoon like this, in a year not so far ago, I was kayaking the waters of Tomales Bay, when I came across this Stellar Sea Lion, floating in a dream.
I stopped paddling, and began to drift myself. From a distance I pulled out my camera and began photographing it.
Slowly, with the very slight breeze and the slight currents I floated a little closer. Using my paddle, with the quietest, gentlest strokes imaginable, I directed my kayak to pass a distance to the side, not heading directly towards the sea lion, as I did not want to scare it or disturb it.
The gentle, warm sun washed over us, filling me with a calm that I may have borrowed from this flippered soul floating at a distance. There was a stillness to the day that encouraged this sort of calm, this torpor.
I barely breathed, not knowing how much it could hear, how far it was removed from the world. The day was so calm and quiet, that I imagined my slightest noise to be magnified. Each time I dipped the paddle into the water, I tried to do it so that there was no sound.
I began drifting closer than I had intended, so I began to paddle backwards, my paddle split in two, and I using only one half that I might not make too large of a movement, in case the Sea Lions eyes fluttered open at the wrong moment. It seemed so peaceful, so content floating out there alone in the bay, the late afternoon sun warming its flippers as they stuck out of the water, miniature, organic solar panels collecting the last heat of the day.
And ever so slowly I backed away, and away, leaving it snoozing, unknowing that I had ever been there. I felt incredibly lucky to have witnessed this creature, at rest on Tomales Bay, floating there alongside my kayak, creating the perfect photography subject as I drifted on my own dream…