Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Five Senses of Kayaking

The ice has melted on Saratoga Lake. For me, that means it's time to put away the skis and break out the kayak. I did exactly that this past Saturday with husband, Keith and friend, Dennis. Yes, it was chilly. Yes, we stayed close to shore just in case someone tipped their boat into the frigid water.

A little risky?

Probably, but there's something about being one of the season's first to launch a boat into the lake. It's adventurous and makes me feel like a pioneer. Not only that, I simply love kayaking. I don't think there's another sport that offers such an intimate encounter with a natural body of water without getting wet. With it comes a sense of calm and intrigue.

Peggy gets ready to kayak!

What do I get out of kayaking?

As with many outdoor activities, it correlates with a life journey. Paddling along a whispering stream or  bouncing on top of a rippling lake is fun at first, but with each stroke, the paddle becomes heavier. Soon, my shoulders pinch and a crick emerges on the back of my neck, but the body keeps moving. If I persevere, the joy I gain from the voyage overshadows these minor aches. The next time out, I'm that much stronger, can travel a little further, and take on a more challenging route.

Then there's the escape kayaking offers from the often daunting world we live in. According to Jan Sheehan, health and fitness journalist, "Finding solace can be as simple as replacing nerve-jangling stimuli with soothing sights, sounds, textures, aromas, and flavors." These soothing senses are abundant on a motorless boat ride. Here are a few examples:   

Sight: Pine tress, berry bushes, clouds, sky, geese, cattails, an endless trail of water or a bend in the route with something unknown waiting just around the corner.

Lows Lake, Northern Adirondacks, NY

Sound: The woosh of water as the paddle moves me along. Birds chirping and cooing in an unrehearsed symphony that is somehow perfectly orchestrated. Resting my paddle on the cockpit hoping to catch that all too rare sound of silence.

 Shhh! Just found myself some quiet.

Smell: That pure yet musty scent. The combination of fish and foliage; weather and fresh water; and an entire community that lives beneath the dark water and above the clouds.

Fish Creek, Saratoga Springs, NY 

Touch: The droplets of water that dribble on my skin when the paddle is lifted out of the water. The breeze that cools my skin. A branch or tree limb that brushes my back.

Lows Lake, Northern Adirondacks, NY

Taste: Plants, animals, water, and air stirred in a pot and inhaled. The taste of nature, revitalizing and calorie free.  

Lows Lake, Northern Adirondacks, NY

Then, of course, there's the sixth sense. That unexplained phenomenon so often found in nature, but not easily explained. Look into the clouds. What do you see?


"Row row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily. Life is but a dream."— Eliphalet Oram Lyte


  1. I enjoyed today's beautiful post. A friend took me kayaking once (on Lake Union, Washington) and although I enjoyed the outing, it wasn't the serene experience you described. However, it was fun to see the "Sleepless in Seattle" houseboats at sea level. I'll try kayaking again in a less urban setting.

  2. A great post Peggy. I used to kayak years ago and found it a liberating experiences. Beautiful photos to.

  3. Thanks for stopping by Sandy and Laurie. Yes...Sandy get out in the quiet and kayak--totally different than the city, although I'm sure that offered a bit of intrigue.

  4. I liked this Peggy, I felt like I was right there with you. I have never kayaked or canoed, but row boating on Lake Gilead in Putnam County NY when I was a kid was great! Thank you for the pictures, spring will be there soon!

  5. I loved this blog post, Peggy. Even though I'd prefer canoeing. LOL
    I love the pictures too!! Well written!