There is something warm and comfortable about spending time with people you grew up with. A specific set of experiences and memories that forever bind you together. For Deborah, Carolyn and me those circumstances meant growing up in the same neighborhood, going to the same schools and hanging out with the same people. But as often happens with childhood friendships, we grew up, focused on careers/ families and drifted apart.
Fast forward some 45 + years to last fall when Deborah, who had been following my life with a new pup on facebook, contacted me about walking our dogs together. Inwardly I jumped at the chance to reconnect but understood that my puppy was well, still a puppy and had a little maturing to do before I could expect her to behave around other dogs. By May I thought Katie might be ready.
We met at a local greenway, introduced our dogs and proceeded to walk for several hours. Those hours flew by as we talked nonstop, catching up with life and sharing our retirement adventure lists. Seems like our lists were pretty long and kayaking was on the top.
Deborah had been kayaking a handful of times this year, I had been out a couple of times a few years ago, but neither had partners who were interested so our efforts never really materialized. As we walked and talked, it didn’t take long for a plan to be hatched.
The plan designated yesterday as THE DAY to get on the lake, specifically The Cove on Fort Loudon Lake where kayaks are rented and a great launch area is located only feet away from the rental shack. Coming along was Carolyn, another childhood friend from the neighborhood who had also been dog walking with Deborah and was already an experienced kayaker. Yay for Deborah for networking!
It didn’t take long to suit up in sunscreen and life jackets and slide down the launch ramp on our little 10′ sit-on-tops. The day was rare for mid-June, breezy, mid-60’s (one of the coolest June days on record), the sky was almost cloudless but the sun was comfortably warm. We paused a moment to absorb our surroundings before we started paddling out of the little protected launch area.
As we paddled, it took me a few minutes to find my comfort zone between body and the paddle. The little sit-on-top is easily moved with body motions. Once comfortable, I remembered why kayaking was the top of my retirement dream list. There is an incredible peace on the water, the gentle rocking of the boat, the sound of my paddle dipping into the water, birds chattering and sounds from distant boats. I could do this for hours but in reality, we only had 2 hours.
We paddled The Cove talking and most importantly listening…..to each other, to the sounds of the water and for me, to the happiness I felt in the moment, with these people, in this place.
As we crossed from one side of the lake to the other, I gained rudimentary confidence as I remembered prior instructions for heading into wakes, turning and reversing. The kayak was short so maneuvering was not too difficult. We avoided the open channel because we didn’t have enough time (or experience) to get out and back within our allotted time.
Two hours went quickly but not before future plans to get back on the water were discussed. I look forward to summer days spent on nearby lakes and rivers with these women continuing our conversation.