St. Marks, Florida – January 19, 2013
“You are listening to NOAA weather service radio station WXJ…”
I’m still not sure where Kenora is. I only know I heard a robotic voice tell me about the weather there last June. It rained in Kenora. The wind blew in Kenora. They had sunny days in Kenora. It was cloudy with a temperature of 68 in Kenora. Then Kenora disappeared and I never heard about it again.
“…in South Dakota, fog was reported…the high temperature in Thief River Falls was…rain was falling in Baudette…at Warroad it was sunny…”
International Falls, Crane Lake, and Ely replaced Kenora before fading away to make room for Grand Marais, Sault Ste Marie, Taconite Harbor, and Silver Bay.
“For Wednesday, southwest winds 10 to 13 knots, seas 3 to 5 feet…Bayfield to Oak Point…Saxon Harbor…scattered thunderstorms and isolated showers…from the national weather service office in Duluth…”
There are two robotic voices. One man, one woman. She usually handles the marine forecasts. He does the weather. I love them both. They read out weather reports like bedtime stories while I sit in my tent and try to imagine where all the places are on a map.
“…again, the forecast for the Quad Cities and the surrounding areas, for the rest of tonight…”
Sometimes they are the only voices I hear for days and I turn on the radio just to have company.
“…as a warm front lifts over the Mid-Mississippi Valley…in Kansas City it was cloudy…in Farmington it was cloudy…in Cape Girardeau it was cloudy.”
I recognize some places, I see them on the edges of my maps or I pass them, others just appear on the radio for a few days then fade away into static, existing in my mind only as long as I hear about them.
“At the mouth of the Mobile River on Tuesday, high tide is at 6:48 pm…Pensacola Bay on Monday…at the East Pass at Destin…”
Then one day, I heard places I knew. Apalachicola Bay, Ocholockonee River, the buoy south of Panama City, St. Marks River Entrance, Shell Point.
I flicked up the volume, listening, waiting, and then there it was.
“This broadcast originates from your national weather service office in Tallahassee, Florida.”
Tallahassee, where I was born and grew up. Tallahassee, where I packed for this trip. Tallahassee, where my parents live. Tallahassee, where it was clear, the temperature was 63 degrees, the wind was east at 10 miles an hour.
Tallahassee, where I finally paddled to today. Tallahassee, where I finally paddled home.