It is February in Minnesota which means the lakes are all frozen solid and I find myself yearning for my Kayaks and some open water. I love my Kayak. I actually went to the boat house just to look at them last weekend. It is freedom and it represents stress-free peace and quiet. On weekends in every season, except winter, I take my sunglasses, my water (sometimes rum), and my iPod and launch to explore the lake.
I take time to think about my route and try new areas. Being at the water’s surface and moving slowly gives one a different perspective than when traveling in the speed boat or the Pontoon. I am one with the lake and nature. I am never in a hurry. I paddle and I look at everything including the vegetation, the birds, the fish and an occasional otter and of course lots of ducks, including the loons. Last summer I got a really good picture of my friend Kae, with her in a kayak in
the foreground and two loons behind her. The picture was selected for the Lake Association calendar.
I see Otters too when paddling. The otters are usually in one of two areas of the lake. I needed to learn this because they surface quickly without warning, right beside the kayak, and the first time they did this little playful and curious maneuver, I almost had to head home for new underwear. It did not help that the first time they did this I did not know we had otters in our lake. It was our first summer on this lake. Now I look for them and I am grateful for all of the beautiful wildlife we have.
Last spring I was kayaking through a circular channel that has heavy vegetation and an island in a shallow area that comes off of the main part of the lake, and as I Kayaked around what I lovingly refer to as the bayou, I observed a turtle the size of a turkey platter, sunning itself on the edge of the water. It did not mind that I slowly paddled by and then even backed up to get a better picture of it. I have seen as many as forty small turtles in this same area all sunning themselves on branches over the water. This bayou area is teaming with birds, even egrets and herons, and has an uninhabited island in the middle that hangs heavy with weeping willows and birds of all kinds.
Of course I listen to music as I paddle. When I am in the bayou I listen to Born on the Bayou by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It is so fitting. Last Fall I even paddled to our little damn while listening to the new Adele album. I paddled extra long that day listening to the song Hello over and over. Great song.
I like the solitude of exploring on my own, but I like paddling with a friend or Joe too. It is a different kind of fun when exploring together. We stop and talk and bring the underwater camera. I can spend all day out on the water. I like kayaking so much that last year when we had a vacation with our BFC’s—(best friend couple), I planned a glass bottom kayak trip in Lake Michigan by Door County, Wisconsin. They provide tours that lead you kayaking over ship wrecks. Our friends, Laura and Doug, and Joe and I headed on down the road to an island adventure in Door County.
We were given our life vests and the tour company loaded and unloaded our glass bottom kayaks to the waters edge. We paddled along the shore and around the coast of the cliffs surrounding that part of the lake. We could see every plant and fish below us. It was so very awesome; I have been looking for a glass bottom kayak ever since. I have not been able to find one that will not break the bank. I have made it my mission to find one since our lake is very clean and clear, I think I could see those otters and all of the fish. I am really looking forward to that.
When we went over the ship wrecks in Lake Michigan I thought the water would be too dark and cloudy to see anything clearly, but I was wrong. You could see every detail of the wreck. It sat in only about 12 to 20 feet of water. I paddled over and over it so that I could take pictures of it and just look at the details. I think I spent more than a half hour over one of them in shallow water.
I now also have my paddle board which is fun, but more for the exercise. For me the kayak is still my favorite. It provides pure relaxation. You do not have to balance, you just have to be present and enjoy the moment. I have found that the best time is early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the lake is quiet and calm. Some people enjoy meditation to clear their mind, I choose kayaking. It does not take long at all to have all stress melt away and all sense of time to become irrelevant. There is no better thing, than the thing in life that can make time irrelevant. Find the thing in life, that for you, can bring you pure joy.