I took my lunch break on the water today.
You might remember my first foray into kayaking at the end of last summer. It was challenging, and I loved it because it tasted like freedom and independence. We mamas don’t get much silence, nor is there often the chance to sit alone in a quiet place and just not talk to anyone. Being on the water in your own personal craft seemed to be the solution, particularly if I could load and unload it myself. That sweet husband of mine surprised me with a second-hand vessel last week, and in my favorite color no less. We struggled together with a roof rack and oddball straps for about an hour before realizing that even if I got it down, I wouldn’t be able to hoist it that high by myself to bring it home. I can however slide it in and out of the truck bed, and so off I went. That maiden voyage was everything I had hoped it would be: refreshing, exhilarating, silent.
We brought the girls down for a little excursion Saturday evening after dinner. It was getting cooler, and the beach was shaded though the sun was still strong further out on the water. It’s a single kayak, but our girls are little enough that if they sit at the front of the opening and stick their legs out, there’s still plenty of room to maneuver. J took Swee first, paddling right to slide behind the country store, then the cafe, then on past the stream with the waterfall where the heron likes to wade. They cut left to cross open water and startled the loons, causing them to dive and swim away. When they surfaced, my people were already heading toward us, and we could all hear their eerie laughter echoing across the valley. Beanie and I watched a seaplane with pontoons circle overhead – she loves airplanes – and then it was our turn to head out. As we pushed off from the beach, that same plane roared over our heads and landed right in front of our boat, leaving all of us amazed as it traveled down the water. We paddled counterclockwise, watching it closely as it turned and taxied back. Beanie was enraptured; I of course was filled with anxiety that it would want to take off again and wouldn’t see us in its way, and so I moved us quickly around and across to see the loons. We were apparently less threatening than my other half, and those beautiful birds bobbed along, staring at us from maybe ten feet away. Daddy and Swee had swum out to the second dock to wait for us, so we pulled up there to watch the plane motor down the length of the lake, rising at what appeared to be the very last second to soar over the trees and disappear into the sky. When I asked her at bedtime what her favorite part of the day had been, Beanie chose the plane, no hesitation. Definitely an atypical experience for our tiny town.
Today, the girls were asleep and J was mowing the lawn when I reached a good stopping point in my work, so I slid my new baby into the truck, gooped up with some sunscreen, and took off. I briefly entertained the idea of trying a new pond, but thought that probably wasn’t wise to attempt unaccompanied and continued on to our own little Lake Minnehonk. It’s small enough that you can see both banks at all times, and I feel confident that should something go wrong, I am strong enough to swim myself out (yes, I wear a life vest. It’s turquoise, in case you were wondering). About halfway down the lake, the wind really picked up and I wasn’t making any headway so I cut across to the other side and paddled back to the beach. The loon turned to look at me as I passed their nest, it’s red eyes following me as I moved away. They have a chick, I’m told, though I haven’t seen it yet. I did see a little dog on a dock, a terrier who made sure to tell me I was not welcome on his lake as his parents chuckled from the swing and remarked on his ferocity. Almost back to my starting point, I swung my legs up and out, over the sides to dip my toes in the water, paddle resting across my legs to allow the slight waves to bob me around, enjoying the sun and the breeze. A quick forty-minute paddle was the perfect lunch break.