Monday 19 July 2021

New passion

This summer is turning out to be the most contrary summer of my life. It's in equal measures terrifying, amazing, uncertain, and incredible. 

There is the constant fire threat, and literally hundreds of wildfires in our province, due to the record-breaking heat, unusually dry conditions, and the carelessness of people (a lot of the fires are human-caused). But at the same time, there is the kind of relentlessly warm, sunny weather that I've dreamed of all my life. 

I did spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the fires, mumbling obscenities under my breath about all of humankind in general for being stupid enough to set their own planet on fire, and the ignorant people in particular who throw their burning cigarette butts out of car windows, or light camp fires, because surely the fire ban doesn't apply to them

So yes, for a good while I kept myself good and miserable. But who does that serve? Does anybody benefit from me being worried and scared and angry and ready to give up?
You guessed it: nope. 

So I sat myself down and asked myself what could turn this summer around. The answer was as sudden as it was surprising: a kayak.

Yes, I suddenly knew deep down: kayaking would turn my shitty, negative, no-good-for-anybody-mindset around.
The funny thing is that yes, I have kayaked before, and I've always enjoyed it. But I was a tourist, a trespasser, playing at something that I never thought I would have a real interest in pursuing in my real life. 

But I've been putting "swimming in lakes!" on my summer-to-do lists for years, and I rarely make it past one measly swim per summer. Not because our summers aren't up for the job (they are excelling year after year, offering roughly one hundred days (!) of superb swimming conditions per season), but because the truth is: I'm not a swimmer. I love the silky coolness of cool water against my sweaty skin on a hot summer's day (who doesn't?), but it's not an exercise I enjoy. In truth, swimming as exercise is almost as bad as running for me (which I also despise), except with the added negative factor of the possible drowning risk (I'm not a strong swimmer). 

Clearly, swimming wasn't the answer. But dipping into an emerald-green, surrounded by wooded hills, beautiful lake definitely was on my list of most desirable summer activities, so all I had to do was adjust my approach. 

Enter: kayaking. 

As soon as that thought struck me, I had an unshakeable, deep-seated certainty that it was the right thing to do. I didn't question it but marched into our local Canadian Tire and bought a kayak right off the wall, not even worried that it might not fit into my Mazda. 
(It barely did; we had to keep the hatch open and Rich couldn't see out of the passenger window because the kayak's bow was shoved aggressively in between the seats, poking the windshield. I was hunched underneath it, giving him instructions as to when the road was clear, grinning wildly the entire time.) 

The very next day I went on my first kayak. 
And I was hooked.
Wherever that blessed stroke of genius came from, I will be eternally grateful. It.Has.Changed.EVERYTHING.

First of all, I had to finally get over my recent (and totally unreasonable) reluctance of driving our old, standard Ford Ranger, because that was the only vehicle where the kayak comfortably fit and that I wouldn't have to unload every time I came home.  

I stalled that poor Ranger an inordinate amount of times (let's not talk about it), which is especially embarrassing considering that I learnt driving standard and drove it exclusively for 4 years, in exclusively shitty cars! 
But then I came to Canada, where pretty much all my cars were automatic, and I got soft. Fast forward 20 years (gasp!), and I felt like a newbie again. Which honestly, never feels comfortable. 
But today I didn't stall my dear little Ranger once, and now I love it as much as all the other Ranger-lovers out there. I'm one of you now!

Second, I had to admit to myself that I know shockingly little about our abundance of local lakes, which is very embarrassing. There are literally hundreds of lakes within a one-hour radius of where we live, and I had been to maybe a handful. 
My mission was clear: Get your and your corgi's ass into the Ranger and start exploring!

And that's what we have been doing. It's been less than a week, but we've been out 4 times to 3 different lakes (I already found a favourite I went to twice). 
And you know what? After our kayak I let Lily roam around while I went for a dip. It was quick (I'm no swimmer, remember?), but it was supremely delicious: just as refreshing, life-affirming, summer-embracing and problem-forgetting as I always hoped it would be. 

There are some weird things happening at work that I have no control over. 
There is a constant fire risk in our area. 
There is insane flooding happening back in Germany at my family's homes. 

But when I'm sitting in Rosie, my kayak, with Lily between my legs, I think of NOTHING. 
I'm not listening to music or an audiobook. 
I'm not thinking of anything. It's the most effortlessly meditative, in-the-moment-state I've ever been  in. 

That's the incredible and amazing part of this summer. 
That, and our friends and family returning for overnight visits: after the dry spell of 2020, we've hosted our most beloved and favourite people, and while I always need to recover after (I'm a big-time introvert), I LOVE having them here. We have laughed, eaten, drunk, and replenished our souls. 
And it's not over: the joy will continue. 

I don't take many photos of people (I'm still too shy), so let Rosie be a symbol of what the summer of 2021 has been thus far:
rich, rewarding, exhausting, life-affirming, and, most importantly: opening doors to new adventures.
A new passion is an exciting love affair you have with yourself. 

I hope you will find one, too.  



  1. Rosie is absolutely perfect! I want a kayak badly. We live on the edge of a small nature preserve with a lake and kayaking would be perfect. But we are in an apartment right now (sold our house, waiting for housing prices to drop before we buy another one) and I have nowhere to store one. I have been researching inflatable kayaks after my husband saw some people using them on the lake and I am intrigued. I hope you have a glorious summer kayaking in lots of lakes.

    1. Oh, I SO hope that you can find your own device that will transport you into (at least temporary) bliss. I had been looking at inflatable kayaks too (subconsciously, I must have been preparing for this step), but I found too many negative reviews of them being too fragile.
      I'm quite rough on my stuff - Rosie has scraped over more than what could be considered a fair share of rocks in her young life. An inflatable would most likely be dead by now already.

      I was going for light enough to carry, and short enough to transport easily. Rosie is 10 feet long and weighs 36 pounds, which is manageable. I highly recommend her!


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