We spent four hours on Flagstaff Lake today, paddling five miles across and around it.
This was new to us both. Even if not open water, it was well more than a mile to the opposite shore. And while on occasion we hugged the shoreline for a better view of forest critters – including the bald eagle that wheeled overhead – for most of the time we navigated the lake’s deeper middle.
Partly to get from here to there. Partly for solitude. Partly to gauge Rachel’s anxiety about bigger water.
Once we got accustomed to the rhythm of paddling and the sway of the kayaks, our confidence grew. We began to derive an elemental satisfaction from moving when – and only when – we put our own muscles to the task. It was primal work and primal play.
From confidence came comfort, and then adventure.
Then play: paddling windward at top speed, spray from the oars and waves and breeze in our eyes, chasing each other like pirates.
And then, shoulders heavy, stopping for lunch on the water.
And looking ashore at the occasional house or cabin, and wondering whether we could feel at home there.
Closer to Serenity
This posture is a considerable change from Rachel’s initial anxiety just four days ago. If it’s not yet serenity, at least it’s very much closer.
But is it enough to compel us to seek lakefront property for Haven?
My dad loved the water. For him, it would have been a no-brainer to live lakeside if he had the means. He usually owned some type of watercraft, and was continually upgrading, trading, or re-engineering it. Now a speedboat, now a pontoon, now a penciled draft for some new novelty craft. For him, water held an enduring allure, and he couldn’t have been more proud than when he was skippering guests on his latest motorboat.
Despite all that, he’d still repeat the old saw that the second happiest day in your life is when you buy (or build) a boat. The happiest is when you sell it.
So some of the test for us both was to see what sort of aquatic communion arose when we placed ourselves in water, and for me to see if it triggered any familial stirrings like it always did for my dad.
Water Is for Visiting
We liked kayaking Flagstaff Lake. We’ll paddle again from time to time, we decided, and whether in lakes or rivers we’ll again choose single kayaks over tandem craft of any kind. And when on the water we’ll stick to human-powered propulsion, for the exercise and control and fun.
But waterways are communal properties, where noises carry and others’ squeals and engines can’t be avoided. That communion isn’t the kind we’re after.
And the water didn’t sing to us.
So we won’t buy a motorboat. And we won’t need to have our own kayaks so that we can drop into the water at the drop of a hat when we start our RV tour next year.
And we won’t settle on a lake.