Thursday, September 17, 2009

Freedom Pond, again

The dock at Freedom Pond has it out for me. I should just stick with my determination to stay away from it, but for some reason I can not. Today, for the want of dry feet, I tried to do a fancy maneuver (using the dock) to get out of my kayak. It didn't work. I wound up with one foot on the dock, another in the kayak, and the two were swiftly separating from each other, even though I'd watched two (count 'em!) YouTube videos showing precisely how to anchor one's kayak and dock using the paddle. As I watched my legs form a near split, I realized I was going to either have to grab that dock which had cut me so well last Sunday, or let myself fall into the pond. I chose the latter.

A long sweater and baggy jeans are quite heavy when wet. I slogged through loading the kayak into the car and thanked those lucky stars that I lived near by, as I'd never have thought of bringing a change of clothes for what was supposed to be a quick late afternoon paddle. I also had a good laugh. The image of what I had done so imperfectly was pretty funny.

I needed this. I've been in a funk for days, feeling physically ill and with it, the seemingly inevitable depression. Both the paddling and the laughable spill were the perfect antidote for it all. On the water (and in the water) I feel fine. The aftermath was good, too; I love the feeling of being cold and wet, peeling off the dripping clothes, giving myself a good towel dry down, and then changing into nice clean clothes. I'm sure this is tied to some happy childhood experiences that I have no conscious memory of.

I'm enjoying visiting the pond again and again. Something new always surprises me, whether it's merely the change of light due to weather or time of day, or birds I've never seen before. Today I startled many small flocks of mallard ducks, which made me feel rather guilty for intruding upon their territory. They had been incredibly quiet and invisible to me in the tall reeds. After I unintentionally flushed out the first dozen and seen them do their extraordinary instant take-off, I tried to paddle as quietly as I could. No matter. When I entered another bog without a sound, another two dozen ducks rose into the air en masse.

I suspect the warblers are now gone. Outside of the ducks, it was just me and the pond.

I wonder what it is exactly about being out in the kayak that makes me feel so good. When I lived in a city, walking 50 or more blocks at a time would knock any depression out of me. Getting out on the water seems to produce the same result, whereas taking a walk in the woods just doesn't do it. I suspect a part of it is a need for light. As to why it feels similar to taking a long walk in a city, well, maybe some of that is my curiosity about everything I see around me. Yes, a walk in the woods provides much for my viewing pleasure, but maybe I'm in need of something that feels more grandiose. But, I'm not up for serious climbing or hiking. I can kayak, and simply being able to, with the physical problems that I have, well, that alone makes me feel good.


jmcleod76 said...

I'm glad you didn't get hurt this time, and that you have a sense of humor about your "spill." Anytime I go near a boat, I resign myself that I'll probably get wet. Getting out is my least favorite part. I usually end up tripping ad kneeling in the water.

Exercise is a well-known antidepressant, though it sounds like it may not be that straightforward in your case. I know I always feel really good after karate class.

TMC said...

I'm so jealous!! :)

Julie H. Rose said...

Yes, I know exercise is an antidepressant, though I'm not sure what you mean about it not being "straightforward in my case." Hmmm.

I've had many experiences of extreme euphoria after doing a lot of yoga, or bicycling (when I was young and able to bike like a maniac), even from weightlighting. The kayaking feels different, though. It's not that much exercise, actually. I certainly never feel like I'm exerting myself in the least (and I surely need to!) It really does feel like moving meditation more than anything else.

TMC, if you're jealous, get out there and get into the water! Is there any where you live? :) I imagine where you are as waterless - how absurd. But Maine does have an abundance of water compared to many parts of the country. We're rather famous for that!

jmcleod76 said...

No mystery, Julie. I just meant that you had said walking in the woods didn't provide the same feelings. Now that you've clarified that you seek kayaking as moving meditation, I understand the distinction. That's a good way to put it. It it quite meditative to just glide across the water.