Sunday, January 15, 2006

Greenland implements

As I expected, YellowEye thoroughly enjoyed my "ninja paddler" look. He was curious about the implements I was holding in my hands - well, here's the answer (I actually wrote this in a comment but then thought "Hey, that wouldn't make a bad post")

I've pulled up another shot here from last night's self-photography session - I took a few & tried to pick the least, please quit laughing...anyways, here's a shot where you can see the smaller implement in my right hand better. That is a norsaq, which is the Greenland word for atlatl, a spear thrower known to hunting communities worldwide. The spear (No, I do NOT have one of those but hope to maybe try a little spear throwing in Sweetwater during Greenland Sports - used to enjoy archery when I worked at a summer camp & was a lot more enthusiastic than one might think about my success in blasting a plastic flowerpot into the air in my first and only experience with an actual firearm, so spearchucking might be fun!) lays in a groove & essentially the throwing stick serves as an extension of the arm, increasing the leverage and allowing the hunter to strike an animal at a greater distance. It is also used as a rolling aid, which is the purpose to which it's most commonly put in the USA (probably Greenland too, I think they mostly use rifles now). Most US Greenland-style paddlers have at least one but few, if any, of us would ever use it for the purpose for which it was originally intended, even if that weren't ENTIRELY against the Marine Mammals Protection Act. In fact many norsaqs are made without the groove for the spear; I have 3, and of those, only one has that feature.

The longer item in my right hand is a Greenland storm paddle. It is used in high-wind conditions, using a special "sliding stroke" in which the paddle slides down through the paddler's hands so that at any given time, the least amount of blade possible is up being grabbed by the wind. Essentially it answers the same need that led to the development of the feathered Euroblade - cutting down on wind resistance. I also call this my "subway paddle" as this one, which is just a hair shorter than my own height of 5'7", is considerably easier to take on New York City public transit than my six-foot-plus standard Greenland paddle (either way, talk about keeping strangers from messing with me - although it does elicit a delightful number of questions which I'm always happy to answer!)

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