Premiere Paddle

May 2, the stars aligned. I finished writing my latest book in the morning, my husband wasn’t working, it wasn’t too windy, too cold, and nobody was sick. The temperature hovered around 12 degrees Celsius, so the layers went on, along with the sunscreen – oh that familiar smell. Hats and sunglasses followed. I searched out my kayak gloves in case the wind blowing across the recently thawed water was cold, and rolled up a nylon jacket to stuff behind the seat. We were going kayaking.

My husband helped with the loading, made easier every years as he tweaks the wall racks in the garage where I store my three kayaks, and the specially fitted slots on the truck bed, where they lay for transport. He has also built a long metal rod system that supports the ends of the kayaks, as they protrude from the truck. Sliding Joy and Bubba into place is a smooth maneuver.

Though a lot held the familiar, there were some surprises. The kayaks had gained weight over the winter. The cockpit was smaller and a lot lower, definitely harder to get into. I have to believe my kayaks changed, because I can’t accept age, or being out of shape, made the difference.

I backed away from the dock and turned for the mouth of the marina. We paddled west around a huge peninsula, usually under water. This year Lake Diefenbaker is so low there is land showing where we least expect it, and the beaches are so wide, the only place you can launch is the main marina. We constantly hit mud with our paddles, as we moved over river bottom usually covered by several feet of water.

This first paddle lasted forty minutes. I could feel the pull in the muscles of my right forearm, just below the elbow, my dominant hand. Not wanting to overdo it the first time out, we floated, taking in all the signs of an early spring. Geese were plotting their nesting sites, blackbirds pecked in the grass along the shore, and robins serenaded potential mates in the poplars. It was a glorious day and a great first time on the water.

We left the kayaks loaded in the truck overnight, and were rewarded the next morning, with a rare occurrence on the prairies – a windless day. Quiet water, glass smooth, is my favourite paddling surface. We slid across it in harmony with each other and nature. An immense peace hovered over the valley, silence reigned, and lingering became our frame of mind. The mirrored surface reflected the ancient hills with their greening slopes. Fat fish exploded into the air, attracted by our passing. The kayaks floated like swans. And like the swans, I just wanted to keep travelling, migrating further, discovering new water, more adventures. They’re all ahead.