Thursday, August 4, 2016

An Old Passion, Reborn

When I was a teenager, my father built a little wooden boat called a sea kayak. It had pockets of air both fore and aft, and a square box to sit in with your knees bent while you paddled like you would in a kayak. I loved that thing and spent many happy hours in it.

For me, it was a safe little boat, as my center of gravity was down inside the box, at the waterline. It would have been hard for me to tip it over.  The time came when my younger brother began to grow and as his center of gravity, as it is in males, was up at chest level, he often tipped the little boat.

One day, I came home and noticed the boat was missing. I asked where it was, and was told that it had been sold as it was too dangerous for my brother to use.  Nobody had ever consulted me, or taken into account how much I loved that little boat.  It had just been sold out from under me, and I don't think I ever forgave my parents for that.

This past weekend our village celebrated Canalfest.  My hubby and I went down to see what was going on, taking our seven year old grandson with us. There were crafts, face painting, and music and food. There were also miniature remote control boats in the basin and Voyageur canoes in the channel, waiting for passengers.

As soon as my grandson spotted the Voyageur canoes, he immediately wanted to go for a ride in one.  As it turns out, the public could go for a half hour paddle for free.  They needed at least eight passengers in order to make the trip. We signed up, picked out the appropriate sized life preservers, and a paddle, and got ready for a little adventure.

First there was a little lesson and dry land practice in the four strokes we might be called upon to execute. Then we were loaded aboard, two by two.

Step one was to turn the canoe around. Following directions, and a little teamwork got it done. We paddled down the cut from just above the upper lock to the open water of the Rideau River, and then across to the far shore.  We paddled right through the lily pads to get a closer look at an osprey nest, complete with young ones.  We flushed out some ducks that were floating in the shade beneath  a tree. On the way back we saw a loon, and paddled right past a whole flock of seagulls that didn't seem to care that we were there.  My grandson kept declared that this was all so much fun! 

The next day we tried to convince the 11 year old grandson to go with us for the same experience.  There was no way we could coax  him to give it a try.  So we left him with his dad and brother and went on our own.  This time a gaggle of geese swam in front of us.

I told our guide that they had created a monster.  I had not paddled anything in over 50 years, and the experience on Saturday brought back to me how much I enjoyed it.  That's why we had come back again the very next day.  I told her to expect us again in the future, as I had signed up for their newsletters so I would know where they were.  She clapped her hands, clearly delighted, and quickly told me they would be in Smiths Falls this coming weekend.

Smiths Falls is  holding it's annual Paddlefest Saturday, August 6th.  Follow the link to learn more.  Maybe I'll see you there!