I always wanted to like canoeing, but for whatever reason the skills elude me. This has led to multiple canoeing experiences memorable only because they did not go well AT ALL. But the first time I was in a kayak I knew I had found a sport I loved.
I have had it in my head for a while that at whatever time we move back to Canada, I would like to take up kayaking. When we found ourselves here last fall, it seemed like a good idea.
I had to find a kayak that I would actually be able to use, so I bought an expensive one that folds up into our trunk – and then began learning how to use it.
One of the things that happened after Beatrix’s death was that my back, shoulders, and neck hurt so much. This has happened to me under stress for as long as I can remember, but since August I have had muscle pain on an unmanageable level. Massage helped – but I found that after about a week, I was all tied up again. It took me a while to realize that after I started kayaking, those muscles didn’t hurt anymore. (Well, that’s not entirely true, but instead it was the satisfying ache of well-used muscles.)
Another thing I found was it was actually so much better than going in to see a professional counselor. (For me, in this context. I think in many circumstances it can be a really helpful thing, so I don’t want to seem like I am making any sweeping statements.) But I often came back after kayaking having come to peace with some issue. It has given me space, time, and beauty, to help work out my healing. (Actually, most of my blogs have been inspired while kayaking.)
Having a physical challenge (e.g. I’m going to paddle to that island and back), has satisfied a need I have. Especially in this season of producing nothing, and often feeling like I am making little progress, achieving tangible goals has been a balm.
I can’t say enough about the beauty… It’s impossible for me to describe in words the healing power of being immersed in natural beauty.
I also feel ridiculously privileged for all of the rich experiences I’ve had this year.
I kayaked on the east and west coasts of Canada.
I kayaked on the Harrison river in October – and so in addition to experiencing the salmon run, I saw several otters and dozens of bald eagles.
I kayaked through an eerie morning fog in a salt water marsh in the Rachel Carson National Wildlife reserve in Maine.
I kayaked out to an island in the Saint Lawrence Seaway. (This one didn’t go at all as intended. Instead of a beautiful, peaceful paddle, it turned into a memorable tidal experience.)
I’m planning to get out on Lake Superior next week.
These things all sound incredible when I talk about them this way. I’m grateful. However, (as with most things), I have found that just getting out regularly on a nearby lake has been the most important thing. I’ve been trying to break it down so that I can explain it, but I find myself at a loss to describe these mysterious encounters with Creator and Creation. It is good.