Holly Henry: Welcome kayakers!
So I went kayaking the other day.
This is something I never wanted to do. Kayaks require water, and other than taking a warm bath or splashing in a hot tub, I prefer not be in the liquid.
But my friend insisted I would enjoy the experience and, since the Kayak Festival is this weekend, it seemed almost obligatory to try the sport du jour.
"Do you have shoes you don't mind getting wet," my friend asked, in preparation for our journey.
What? Do I look like a girl? Hey, I've jumped out of a plane. I've climbed Devil's Tower. I might wear lipstick, but I can get my feet wet with the big boys. All five foot five of me puffed up my shoulders and told him just that.
Truth is I was terrified.
I've been afraid of the water ever since being pushed off a floating dock at summer camp back in 1973. A sassy little blonde girl with braids was the bully who orchestrated the near drowning, accounting for my present day aversion to blondes with braids and swimming. Though I've since learned how to swim (or at least keep my head above water and tread while waiting for someone to rescue me) I still don't like the water.
Perhaps this fear of kayaks comes from watching too many of those shows where people flip upside down and remain seated in the cockpit. Somehow they always manage to right themselves and come up smiling. I, on the other hand, am not good under pressure. Or under water.
So, against my better judgment I donned the Shoes I Don't Mind Getting Wet and headed out to the lake.
Opposed to initiatives that require a lot of fancy prep work, I was sure to tire of the exhibition before setting sail. If there are copious directions to follow or dots to connect or layers to wear and boots to buckle, count me out.
Surprisingly, removing two kayaks from the top of an SUV takes less than five minutes. Dang. This was too easy.
My friend almost ceremoniously helped me get situated in the little boat and then handed me the paddle. I cautiously rocked back and forth in hopes I would just capsize right there in the shallow water and call it a day so I could go sit on the dock, work on my tan and knock back a couple of gin and tonics. But no, the little craft seemed kind of stable. Hmmmm. Now what?
I stuck one end of the paddle in the water and promptly launched the other paddle full of water into my face.
My friend smirked.
I paddled out into the lake - dry shoes, wet hair - and soon discovered that while not all that good at paddling, I was darned good at bobbing.
I placed my feet on the helm and relaxed.
We spotted a merganser and paddled toward it. It ducked under the water and we waited in a silent competition to see who would be the first to see it resurface.
Silence, precious silence. How long it had been.
Occasionally a frog croaked, but other than that there was sweet nothing.
There our moments in our lives when our entire physicality says "I get it. I get why people do this." The first time our skate skis hit their stride and it suddenly seems easy to glide on snow. The first time a trout takes our fly. The moment we touch ground after rappelling off a mountain, or when our dog retrieves its first bird.
So as Subarus wearing kayaks begin descending on Two Harbors this week, I can say in some small way "I get it."
Whether you've come for fellowship, competition, a silent paddle or just to get your shoes (or face) wet, welcome to Lake County!