This morning we got up at 6 a.m. to go kayaking. If you know me well, you know I hate this sort of thing generally. I hate being forced to get up early to go on some sort of trip or adventure. The worst is getting up for an early flight, or road trip Äì although driving isnÄôt so bad once youÄôve got some caffeine in your system and the morning news on the radio. But similarly, I donÄôt like getting up early for, you know, any activity really. The crazy thing is, itÄôs not the getting up early part. No, really. I like getting up early. I like getting ready for the day slowly. I like reading the paper, maybe, and having a good breakfast. I even like going for early morning runs or trips to the gym, where IÄôm in charge and can take my time. I like the sense of accomplishment, and on the flipside, I donÄôt like waking up too late and feeling IÄôve wasted my day.
So Äì getting up early Äì thatÄôs not the problem. ItÄôs getting up early and having something to do immediately, something that someone else is generally dictating. Something that requires you WAKE UP big time and participate before the sun has risen. Like, oh, I donÄôt know, going to look for eagles.
So when J suggested this kayaking trip last night Äì a sunrise kayaking trip Äì my first response, naturally, was not unbridled enthusiasm. But he was really excited about it, I hadnÄôt had a chance to go out for a real kayaking trip yet, and I figured I could handle it. I mean, weÄôre living here in this beautiful place for free, - working, but not on anybodyÄôs schedule, really. I mean, I canÄôt complain about anything so I decided I might as well do something I normally would say no to. It would be good for me, and also, we would be coming right back home where if I wanted to, I could get right back into bed. Not that I would, but it was a comforting thought.
When J gently woke me up this morning, out of a very, very deep sleep, I thought only briefly about going back on my promise. It was completely dark outside although he swore the sun was about to come up. He was also making coffee and told me you could see Jupiter shining brightly in the sky only at this time of day, right before sunrise. The combination of these things forced me out of bed and into some comfortable clothes that I deemed fit for kayaking.
As we waited for the sun to fully light up the sky, thus prompting the beginning of our adventure, the dogs ran around outside nearly breaking my heart as they had these ridiculously exuberant looks on their faces, tails wagging, positive we were all going to do something fun together. I explained to them that weÄôd go swimming when we returned (we didnÄôt), put them inside, shut the door and watched the disbelief register on their faces as J and I headed down to the beach.
IÄôve kayaked before plenty of times. IÄôve kayaked in the ocean with my brother in Maine. IÄôve kayaked on rivers on various outdoors trips and IÄôve kayaked in the Chesapeake with J before, too, during a family day my mom hosted at the house for her coworkers, so I knew what I was doing. ItÄôs not hard, especially in the early morning calm Bay waters. But because I canÄôt help myself, I got spooked a few times. ItÄôs the early morning thing again. No oneÄôs out. No oneÄôs there to help you when you fall. Or die, or whatever.
Because IÄôve read almost nothing but mystery novels for the past two years, I cleaned up a few things in the house before we left. IÄôd taken off my bra the night before while snuggled in a blanket watching TV because I figured, hey, IÄôd be way more comfortable with my bra off! And IÄôd left it casually sitting on a chair in the living room. That wouldnÄôt do, I knew, because if I was found dead in some Äúboating accidentÄù and a particularly resourceful inspector thought there was something funny about my case and proceeded to prove thereÄôd been foul play, he or she would naturally search the house, find my bra and assume sexual intrigue where there wasnÄôt any. That sort of thing.
I frowned at the fairly terrifying mist rising off the water. I thought J had exclaimed ÄúthereÄôs a bear!Äù when he pointed out a beer can sitting on the pier. I asked what I should do if I saw a shark.
But after weÄôd paddled out a ways, headed north and staying close to shore, I started to relax. Great Blue Herons Äì by far my favorite creature to behold out in these parts Äì flew from tree to tree as the sun crept higher and higher over the horizon.
We turned in at JackÄôs Creek, a small inlet surrounded by reeds, trees and just a few houses that J and Max had discovered on an earlier trip. He set to work scanning the trees with his binoculars, spending a great deal of time watching a sandpiper or something like that and I took off my shoes, let my feet drift in the water and laid back in my kayak for a while. The water was so calm I was barely moving. I watched the birds overheard, squinted and looked at the sun, brightly poking through tree limbs and then turned my head to the side and looked out at the vast expanse of waterÄ¶the slight ripples my paddle made when it brushed against the water. The reflection of the pink and blue sky.
I know this is going to sound totally insane, but it made me feel a little sad. This amazingly peaceful moment was the first time IÄôd felt Äì maybe ever Äì really close to this body of water, the land around it and the animals and plants that make their home here.
I only started spending time at the Bay a few years ago and by no means has my family ever been really into living on, and learning about, the water. I mean, we all love it Äì who doesnÄôt love looking out on the water? Äì but our presence here is recent. With JÄôs help weÄôre just getting into the kayaking thing and hopefully weÄôll do even more in the future. More boating. More exploring.
I wasnÄôt sad about any of that though. I was sad becauseÄ¶and honestly, I canÄôt even believe how immature and simplistic this is going to soundÄ¶but I was sad because of pollution. IÄôm going to look even worse now, but the BayÄ¶the Bay is polluted right? I mean, I know it was growing up and I think that things have gotten better over the years, but I know perfectly well there are problems. And maybe for the first time ever I saw how beautiful the Bay is, I mean, it was so remarkably beautiful out there this morning, and all of a sudden I felt depressed about it, and then I started thinking about other environmental concerns, and once that starts, well, thereÄôs no stopping.
I did, though, I did stop. I knew there was no use being on a sunrise kayak ride with my husband and getting upset about humanityÄôs wrongdoings against Mother Earth. I decided, instead, to enjoy it the Bay as it is, because itÄôs still great, and even more importantly to find some worthwhile groups that are making a change for the better and maybe donate my money or time to their cause.
The thing about kayaks is that youÄôre really close to everything. YouÄôre close to the water below you which is, in fact, in the boat with you and seeping into your socks and your underwear, and if you paddle into shore youÄôre close to the reeds and bushes and trees and everything that lives in this habitat, and youÄôre just there really a part of it all, gliding soundlessly around taking note. Maybe thatÄôs what made me feel so suddenly attached to this place, and IÄôm looking forward to more of that, yes, even very very early in the morning.