“Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
(Aw, that’s what’s happenin’ baby)
That’s where you’ll find me
Along with lovers, muggers, and thieves
(Aw, but they’re cool people).” – Dirty Water, The Standells
I was recently at a baby shower. The hosts requested that each guest write down some advice for the new parents. Brilliant idea. Why read 10 different books when you can read 25 practical, “worked for me”, snippets from friends who have your best interest in mind? As our small group debated what would be the best advice, one dad wrote down, “When in doubt, put them in water.” Brilliant again.
From my early parenting days, this advice would have been welcome during the days full of fussiness, discomfort or boredom. And those are just words to describe me as a parent, not even the wee ones. Babies are created, and subsequently live in a water-like environment for 9+ months. They are used to that feel – the slosh, and splash, the experience and sounds of water. And for those bigger than 6 months, discovering toys and bubbles is a lot of fun and a great distraction.
That single piece of parenting advice inspired “Kayak (more) (with different people)”. Getting out onto (note: onto, not into) a body of water inspires movement, but in a calm and peaceful way. There typically isn’t a race or challenge being accomplished. There is just kayaking. And being in a kayak doesn’t have to be a solo activity like swimming can be. I have found on a few occasions that going out in a tandem kayak with my oldest daughter gets us talking about different things than what we’d discuss at the dinner table or even on a walk. Perhaps because we aren’t face to face, perhaps because we are looking at different things from our everyday, or better yet perhaps because we are looking at things we see every day, but from a different ANGLE.
Being on the same level with the water brings me a lot of peace. There are sounds on a river or lake that are tremendous distractions from nagging thoughts. There are lots of other beings on the water that bring about perspective as to how big the world is – dragonflies, fish, ducks, geese, herons and water spiders. Their world is all around you. Their world does not include the gridlock of 93 South into Boston on a Monday morning. Ah. Peace.
I don’t own a kayak myself. I don’t think I’d benefit from owning one as the first thing I’d see is the hassle of buying a roof rack, paddles, a wet bag, and then finding time to use it enough for a ROI. However, I’m lucky enough to live in New England where there are plenty of great places to kayak, and kayak outfitters who rent by the hour or day, and provide excursions, life vests and instruction. Kayaking is a great group activity, and easy enough to do – no special fitness level or gear – just an interest to get a bit closer to nature.
Kayak Adventure 1: Ipswich River, Foote Brothers Canoe & Kayak Rental / I spent an interesting hour with my oldest daughter on the Ipswich River this summer. Interesting in that it was incredibly peaceful, and that completely freaked her out. We’ve been kayaking before in an open pond, but to her kayaking along a fairly tight portion of the river, and not seeing any other humans for stretches, made it a very lonely experience. She saw a beaver dam, and thought said beaver would tip us over. While this type of kayak environment didn’t work for her, I’d recommend Foote Brothers and an Ipswich River adventure to anyone. It is a beautiful paddle.
Kayak Adventure 2: Charles River, Paddle Boston / As you can see from the list item title “with different people” is critical. Conversations while paddling (you can’t exit the boat, you have a common goal of moving forward, and no easy access to your smart phone for distraction), and hopefully the cold beverage following, is fun with lots of different types of people. I had the pleasure on August 14 to enjoy a post-work paddle with an old colleague. She had been kayaking once before, but spent most of her time running the paths around the Charles River. Paddle Boston’s outpost along Boston’s Soldier Field Roa in Brighton made it easy enough to park and paddle, and not once did I feel like we were floating between busy sections of Boston roadway at rush hour. We paddled up river for about 45 minutes without really noticing the time, only recognizing the distance paddled by the bridges that crisscross the river at increments. The conversation made only sweeter by the refreshing beer at the local afterwards.
Remaining Kayak Adventures: Open Sea Kayak, Kayak Outside of MA, Kayak with Youngest