Lydia rang the camp bell three times. Visitors and campers stopped their activities and looked up to the balcony where Lydia leaned over .
“All the camp instructions will now be open for the use of both visitors and campers. If families want to take their campers off site, please be sure to sign them out and have them back to camp for 4 o’clock general swim. Thank you for trusting us with your children and for joining us today.
“Well darlings, what do you want to do this afternoon? We have free time until 4 o’clock.”
“Hmmmm. How about another sail boat ride guys?” Himself asked the kids.
“Noooo,” my son grimaced as he shook his head and waved his arms.
“No way Dad! We broke the sailboat, fell into the water and had to be rescued.” Daughter One piped up.
“When you put that way, it does sound kinda bad…” Himself pouted.
“Rock climbing?” I suggested.
“Noooo,” the kids responded.
“Wind surfing?” I asked.
“Not enough boards for all of us.” Himself said.
“A canoeing adventure?”
“Okay,” the kids agreed.
“Can I paddle Dad? Pleeeease? I wanna show you my amazing paddling skills!” Daughter One pleaded.
“I wanna paddle too!” Daughter Two joined in.
“You both can paddle.” Himself said.
“Me too! Me too!” Our son jumped up and down.
Himself had a pained expression on his face. “For sure. You too little buddy.”
I caught sight of Lydia helping to clear away dishes.
“Lydia. Are we OK to go on a short paddle ride? We won’t stray too far but I just wanted someone to know that I wasn’t right on the property.”
“Oh sure thing. I can be your sub while you are gone. Just make sure you check yourselves off on the boating board and have fun.”
“Will do. Thanks for covering for me.”
We checked out a canoe on the boating board and then headed down towards the canoe dock. We found our life jackets and three paddles. We pulled the first red canoe off the pile and guided it into the water. The entire time the kids were negotiating who was going to paddle and when. There was some discussion about the girls sterning. That was quickly kiboshed by Himself. He argued that he had to go back to the city tonight so this was his only opportunity to paddle, so he wanted to stern. That was some quick thinking on his part! I nodded my head in agreement.
We entered the canoe carefully. Daughter One was in the bow with a paddle. Daughter Two and myself sat in the center of the canoe on the bottom. My son sat in front of me with a shorter paddle. Himself sat at the back on the stern seat. We pushed off from the dock.
“Where to?” Himself asked as he dipped his paddle into the water and we started a slow glide forward. My son leaned over the right side of the canoe and attempted to get his short paddle into the water. This shifted the canoe and we came close to tipping. Us girls squealed and then Daughter Two and I shifted our bottoms left to balance things out. We managed to steady the canoe again.
Daughter One actually did a pretty darn good job of paddling. She switched sides pretty frequently but her stroke was strong. She had really come along since our ill fated canoe trip to the tiny island last week.
“Let’s go around the peninsula and see the south side of camp. There’s some interesting spots along there I noticed while kayaking last week.”
As we paddled along we took in the fishing dock where a family was pulling a small pickerel and a bass off two poles. We waved and greeted each other as we passed by. I asked what they were using as bait. Left over hot dogs was the answer. Huh.
As we rounded the peninsula we saw several wind surfers slowly zig-zagging crossing the lake in the gentle breeze. There were a couple of kayakers in the center of the lake, their paddles glinting in the sunshine as they quickly propelled across the water.
We paddled past the kayak dock and waved at Caroline and Muddy. They were helping a couple of parents who were trying to maneuver into kayaks without falling in.
Beyond the kayak docks we pulled in close to the shore. We slowed down and gazed into the shallow water with its rocky pebbles on one side, and the deeper waters on the other. The kids were mesmerized as we very slowly floated along.
Around the corner was the tiny inlet polluted with water lilies. The kids “Oooohed” with delight as we turned into the midst of them. The lily pads gently scraped against the sides of the canoe. We startled a little family of mallard ducks who were feeding in the lilies. It was a mother, father and two baby ducklings. The babies scrambled onto their mother’s back as they tried to slip past us. The father duck submerged under water and did laps under our canoe.
“I think he is trying to chase us out of here.” Daughter Two observed.
“I think so too.” Himself said as he gracefully turned the canoe to leave the inlet.
My son was no longer paddling at this point and instead was watching the drips from the blade of the paddle. His two little fists holding tightly to the gunwale.
“There is a little stream over there. We should investigate that.” I pointed and Himself guided the bow of the canoe in that direction.
As we got closer, a Blue Heron took flight from the mouth of the little stream. It might have be the same one I had seen during my kayaking trip. Again the kids “Oooohed” as they craned their heads to see the Heron in flight. It’s wing span was at least five feet. He was impressive!
Himself aimed the canoe towards the shore and we disembarked without much grace. The immediately kids flung their sandals into the canoe. They didn’t waste anytime getting themselves into the stream which came up to their ankles at it’s deepest. They cautiously stepped on the rocks and ambled deeper into the vibrant green of the forest as they looked for tadpoles, minnows and fish. Himself and I followed. The sounds of the bubbling stream accompanied the chirping of the birds and there was the frequent accent of a child’s voice. “Look at this! Come here, quick!”
For me, this little adventure, was pure bliss. My heart was so full. I stopped to drink it all in.
“Remember this Anne! When you are anxious or stressed, just breathe, and remember this magnificent moment.” I said to myself.
Who knew that I would need to envision this bubbling stream in less than an hour!