I take my lunch very late in the day for a number of reasons. On this day at lunch I am harassing Becky via text in the form of funny pictures. We start talking about our plans for the night. She mentions she was thinking of going kayaking. Would I like to join her? All of a sudden I am revived. There is new life in this gal. Hell yeah I would like to join her. There were a few things I wanted to do after work but screw it, they could wait for another day. I was going kayaking for the first time ever and I was very excited to say the least.
After work I stop home to change into shorts and sandals. Damn my legs are white. Need to use more of that sunless tanner but now is so not the time. I am going kayaking!! I drive down to Beech Mountain Lakes to meet Becks. She has two kayaks. I get the blue one. It's my favorite color so this makes me even happier. ( I am such a goof I know. ) I help her as best as I can to get the boats off the Jeep and over to the boat launch. We are strong chicks, even if Becky may have knocked herself in the head with one of the boats. Sometimes people take boats to the head. It happens....usually to me but this time I was spared.
|The blue kayak for me!! :)|
Becky gives me a quick crash course on how to steer the boat. If you want to turn right, paddle to the left and vice versa. The color drains from my face for a second. I do not know my left from my right. I'm screwed. I'm going to be on the opposite side of the lake from Becky stuck in a pile of lake weed and branches. I'm going to flip the boat and never be seen or heard from again. The evening news will go something like this. " Little blonde woman mysteriously disappears into the depths of Beech Mountain Lakes. We believe the turtles and bass got her. All she had to do was turn left but she turned right because she could not hold her hands up to make an "L" to guide her with oars in her hand. Such a sad senseless tragedy.....that a 39 year old woman does not know her left from her right. And now for the latest sports scores here is our favorite sports reporter Jacques Strappe."
I breath a little. I will get it. The reason I don't know my left from my right is because I am a natural at getting the feel for just about anything really fast. It's true. My mind just knows what to do. So...I let it do it's thing. When I have to really think about something is when I have issues. That doesn't necessarily mean I am good at everything I set out to do, if you ever saw me play pool or horseshoes you would understand, but I do get a feel and a concept for whatever it is I am doing. If I just go with the flow, I'm good.
We get the boats in the water. Becky demonstrates how to paddle. You are to paddle overhand, reaching as far as you can, without putting the oars too deep in the water. I give it a go. Since my arms are short I keep hitting the oars off the side of the boat. Since my arms are short, my reach is not that far. I am also plunging my oars way too deep in the water. I do however, know how to turn the boat. And like I said, I didn't have to think about it. I just did it.
After about twenty minutes I have a good flow going. I am not making as much noise, I just have to lean a little further with my upper body. I also got the feel for using the oars at the perfect depth for moving. Using the rowing machine has paid off. My arms are not the slightest bit sore or tired. Granted, I am on a lake and not the rapids, but this is definitely the best place to learn. I am having such a blast kayaking for the first time ever. As we paddle the lake Becky tells me we are going to a place she calls Turtle Cove so I follow her lead.
|"I'm on a boat! I'm on a boat! Take a good look at the muthaf@cking boat!" - The Lonely Island|
I notice in the far left hand corner of the lake ( I had to think about that, LOL!) there is a little water path. Is that where we are going I wonder? From the looks of Becky's direction, it is. Paddling and orienteering in the open water has been easy, but now we are going into a smaller body of water. I begin feeling slightly anxious about getting stuck and flipping the boat again. I don't allow my anxiety to stop me though. I figure a smaller body of water is perfect for learning how to maneuver the boat better.
As we enter the little cove, I notice the water is so smooth and still compared to the choppy lake water. As we put our oars in the water, they make a gentle sound, like slowly pouring water in a cup. It is very quiet and secluded back here. I tell Becky I feel like we are in a secret oasis no one else knows about. She tells me that is exactly how she feels and it is why she loves coming back here. She says she calls it Turtle Cove because she always sees lots of little turtles swimming around amongst the lily pads and leaves on her visits.
|Entering the cove|
As we go further back into the cove I find myself headed towards a pile of underwater branches on the side of the lake. I panic a little at the thought of getting stuck and flipping the boat over into the stagnant water. I am positive that would not feel, taste or smell good at all. Becky notices me panicking a little. She tells me not to worry, the boat will not flip over. Her words are heaven to my ears. Nothing else phases me for the rest of the ride.
We spend about thirty minutes in the cove. I am in absolute awe over the lily pads. I've seen them all my life, yet I never knew how they were there, in the water. By drifting through the cove in such still waters, from the water and not the shore, I can see tube-like stems growing from the bottom of the lake. At the top of these stems are.... lily pads! Very cool! For some reason, they reminded me of water mushrooms. I have no idea why but the thought kept appearing in my head. Are there even water mushrooms for real? Who knows. I also notice little polliwogs swimming around the lily pads. When we were little and my dad took us fishing, we used to get so excited to see polliwogs. We would try to catch them in little containers. I believe he allowed us to take them home once in awhile.
They always died, just like the sunnies aka sun perch we used to bring home. We would go outside several times a day to peer inside the little containers to see our new pets only to be devastated by their untimely demise. This was how we learned about death as children. All things die eventually, but as my father explained, sometimes removing a living thing from it's natural environment, it's eco-system, can be a death sentence. He humored us by allowing us to bring pets home a few times because he knew there was a lesson to be learned. Eventually, even at our young age, we made conscious choices to stop taking "pets" home and to just observe and appreciate them in their natural habitat. I passed this same lesson on to my children as well. Their reaction was the same as ours when we were children. Observe, appreciate, enjoy, but let it be.
|Lily pads aka Water Mushrooms LOL|
|They were all over the place.|
Becky is a good turtle spotter. She would call out to me and point where to look in the water so I could see them too. They looked so cute and happy swimming around. The would come to the surface, peek their little heads out of the water, then dive back down to the bottom of the lake. You could see just how much Becky loved the little turtles. She looked so happy. I also noticed some baby bass and little rainbow trout swimming about in the cove. Becky says once it gets really warm, the gnats and mosquitoes become a huge nuisance, but right now, I have yet to even take notice of one flying pest in the air around us.
I find it so relaxing and calm in Becky's Turtle Cove. Again, it takes me back to JR Tolkien's world. This time I think of the stream that divides the Shire from the town of Bree. We float around a little longer, observing and chatting. I practice maneuvering the boat some more. My turns are still a little wide and awkward, but way better that when I first started. We make our way back out to the main lake and just float around for an hour talking girl talk, admiring the lakeside homes, and watching a fisherman in a boat nearby catch some trout. I could sit here out in the middle of the lake on a day like today all day and not think anything of it. I always loved the water and I have always loved boats. The fact that for the first time in my life, I controlled the boat with my own body strength made it even more rewarding and enjoyable.
|Enjoying the view from our kayaks.|
I remember something my bestie Wayne said when he first started kayaking a few years back. He has always been as attuned to nature as I am, if not more. He was a walker and hiker like myself. However, as connected to the energy in nature as he was when walking, he said being on the water in a kayak brought him even closer to being one with nature. Walking connects you to the earth. Kayaking introduces another element to the experience, that element being water. Your body is the motor for the kayak. Your mind decides where it wants to go. You become one with your surroundings. It's a spiritual experience. I understood exactly what he was saying, but now having done it for myself, I feel it too.
|I so happy!|
It is now time to head back to shore. As we near the boat launch, Becky tells me to paddle as fast as I can to get the boat as far up the launch as possible. She will go first so I can watch her. She does a perfect job. Now it's my turn. I begin paddling as fast as I can but unfortunately I realize I am once again sticking the oars too deep in the water. Instead of getting my kayak up the boat launch, I fly right past it into the little gully next to the launch. Of course the club house and restaurant is right next to the boat launch. If any of the diners happened to be looking out the window at that very moment, they were probably wondering WTF the woman in the big blue kayak was trying to do and that perhaps she should not be in a kayak at all.
Becky and I are both laughing like crazy over this. I get to practice maneuvering the boat some more since I got myself stuck in the gully. Lots of good lessons I am teaching myself today I laugh. I push off the side of the grass with an oar and turn myself around. This is not as easy to do when you can't stop laughing. Finally I manage to get the kayak sideways up the boat launch. Okay, so I still need some work but it's all good because I have found myself completely enamored with kayaking. I plan to do as much of it this summer as possible. I may even decide to get my own boat if the price is right. Then, I will just need to learn how to tie it to the Blazer.
|Where I tried to park the kayak. So much not the boat launch!|
Even going into the autumn of my life, I am still discovering new things about myself everyday. Some of those things were there all along, I just didn't notice or empower them for one reason or another. Self discovery is a beautiful thing no matter what your age. As CS Lewis once said, " You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." Wise words indeed.