Welcome back to another Transformation Tuesday!
I have recently completely my sailor’s initiation.
Ok, not really sailor, more like paddler. Two summers ago, I went camping in Algonquin Provincial Park with my, then, two and a half-year old daughter. While she splashed around in the lake, I sat on the beach keeping an eye on her and another on the kayakers and canoers. A twinge of envy nipped at me as I observed the paddlers enjoying a warm summer’s day on the lake.
On the beach, I caught snippets of a conversation between two mothers making evening plans as they parted. One of the two pulled a kayak from the beach and into the water, plunked her two small children inside, and paddled away, easily maneuvering the craft. My brain exploded! It looked like a kayak, but the cockpit was wide enough for her and the kids. What was this thing? It turned out to be a recreational kayak. I never knew, never imagined such a thing existed, but it meant that BabyGirl and I could enjoy the lake in a whole different way. I made up my mind to learn more.
I sat on the idea for a while, unsure of how to get the necessary training. Patience rewarded me when I went hiking at Kelso Conversation Area at the end of last summer. I spotted a trailer full of kayaks being towed by a vehicle covered in butterflies and learntokayak.ca decals.
Learntokayak.ca. Easy enough to remember. I checked out their website a few days later but the season for learning was ending so I waited out the fall and winter, periodically checking the website for the first opportunity to sign up for a class.
Finally, the morning of my class came, my excitement dimmed, and I found myself anxious. As I drove to the pool in Burlington, I convinced myself that I would find a class filled with athletic, fearless, extreme sports loving, 20 year olds who planned on doing some whitewater kayaking or something just as
reckless challenging while I would be the mom in the practical Wal-Mart bathing suit fumbling through the lessons.
Fear has such a way of taking over my mind! I was one of two of the youngest people in the group. The other “young” person was Mark, a thirty-something dad who was also there because he wanted to take his young children kayaking in a safe and knowledgeable manner. No one planned on doing anything too extreme: fishing, photography, tripping.
The only death-defying stunt involved forcing ourselves to flip our kayaks while we were inside and releasing ourselves while holding on to our kayak and paddle. The first time was the hardest as my sense of self-preservation kicked in and I wondered if I would remain trapped inside. I ran through the instructions in my mind, took a couple of it’s-me-against-the-world breaths, and flipped that sucker over.
I struggled with the paddling bit. There wasn’t a wall in that pool that I didn’t hit. There wasn’t another kayak in that pool that I didn’t hit. There were a few people bobbing in the water that I hit. I was dangerous until Craig, one of our instructors, observed how well Mark was doing because he was taking things slowly. Ding! Ah, yes. I have a way of rushing through things when I feel I need to prove myself. This was Sunday morning after all, I should be taking it easy.
Please forgive the following baseball analogy but I can’t help myself. Ever watch a pitcher pitch? The ball may travel at 80 or 90 miles an hour but the pitcher takes his time setting himself up for that pitch. He takes his cue from the catcher,
fondles his ball warms the ball, takes his stance, channels his power into the ball and releases it. His focus is entirely on the pitch. He looks like he’s meditating. Once I slowed down and focused on the movements, the strokes came easily, the kayak moved faster than I expected but I was still in control of it. Unexpectedly, I was transported: the pale blue water of the pool turned dark brown-green, the salty pungent scent of algae replaced the chlorine smell, birds sang, the heat of the sun warmed me, and a breeze caressed my skin. I am so looking forward to making that daydream a reality! But first, Level 1 Skills course in open water. Gotta go sign up for that now. Blog you later.
What’s your favorite water sport? Any water adventures you’d care to share? What’s your latest transformation challenge?