Seven years ago I made a promise, to myself.
It was while driving across Canada from southwestern Ontario, to take up residence and work in Princeton, when I first saw paddle boarding.
Maybe there were paddle boards back east that went unnoticed. It’s just your major bodies of water – Erie, Ontario, Superior and Huron – could not be described as millponds on the calmest of days.
Lake Erie alone keeps the secrets of 2,000 shipwrecks, everything from freighters, steamboats and fishing boats. Surely a paddle board would cause it to giggle.
Spotted paddle boarders first when travelling along Highway 3, on the blue and green surfaces of White Lake and Yellow Lake.
They appeared at the same time fierce and gentle. Backs and shoulders straight, legs astride and with a paddle gripped across the chest they conjured an image of the warrior. Still, there was a remarkable serenity in the way they cut across the water, representing balance and quiet reflection.
Right away I knew I had to be a paddle boarder and swore to take it up at the first chance.
Only there never seemed to be the time, or the paddle board, to adopt the hobby.
That all changed last week on a whim, during a glorious day at Skaha Lake in Penticton.
There weren’t many people around, the sand was blistering hot and the water deliciously refreshing. There is a little kiosk on the beach renting paddle boards for $25 an hour.
On this trip I was with my eldest son, who is generous with his time when it comes to making sure I get out of the house on a regular basis. Picture someone enthusiastically asking the family Cocker Spaniel if she’d like to go for a car ride once a week. It’s like that but better.
An engaging and outgoing young woman named Belle took care of the paperwork and gave us a short dry land paddle boarding lesson.
All that was left was the life-jacket, measuring for a paddle and selecting a board.
Belle eyed me with cheerful compassion.
“Let’s give you a sturdy one,” she said.
Results were mixed.
The aforementioned progeny has never encountered a sport at which he didn’t excel (with the exception of bowling) and within minutes he was zipping around Skaha Lake as if he was born on a paddle board.
Ironically and by comparison I haven’t been so focused on my breathing, or concentrated so hard looking at one fixed point, since the last time I was in labour.
Super paddle boy tried his best to encourage. “Relax Ma. Even if you fall off you aren’t going to hurt yourself.”
Like if I fell off I was ever going to be able to get back on.
Fortunately, it is perfectly respectable to kneel while paddle boarding. You can even sit down and splash your feet in the water.
It turns out I’m not built for paddle boarding. Most paddlers I’ve observed are slender and fit, but I’m not ashamed of resembling my carefully selected board – sturdy. Also, balance is something I struggle with in many areas of life.
Nonetheless, I’m glad to have tried it. Also glad the little kiosk on Skaha Lake beach also sells floaties.
Andrea DeMeer is the publisher and editor of the Similkameen Spotlight.