Of course, it has felt like summer for weeks because there’s no such thing as a decent springtime here in Indiana. Officially though, summer started last Saturday, June 20th.
I decided a great way to greet summer head-on would be a river adventure with a few friends. “It will be fun!” they said. My choices: canoe, kayak, or tube. Based on my frequent canoeing as a college girl, I easily decided to rent a canoe for The Precious Pair and myself. “It will be fun!” I said.
Everyone else on the field trip went with a kayak. This is important to note and will become an important detail later in this story. But first, my general thoughts on summertime…
It’s actually my 4th pick of the seasons. I’m not a summer person. Never have been. Never will be. The heat and the sun and I do not get along. Bugs like me far too well. And I’m not a big fan of the water – pools, lakes, boats included. So why in the hell would I go canoeing?
Cabin Fever. That’s why. I’ve been working remotely since St. Patty’s Day. And my situation will likely not change until around Valentine’s Day 2021.
If you just did the math, you’ll know that’s almost one full year. I’ve always enjoyed working at home here and there. But I’m learning I’m not meant to be a full-time home-based professional. The walls tend to cave in on me while the constant video meetings exhaust me. So, I’m seeking good reasons to get out of my home-office when I can, away from that computer staring me in the face for hours on end.
The latest opportunity came when my friend Lynne mentioned the river trip. It instantly reminded me of my college days when we would go “Brewin’ & Canoein'” every spring. It was always the big last hurrah of the school year – and it was an epic event for my friends and me. We’d grab a guy, a cooler, and a canoe, and the rest became history! There were no cell phones to worry about getting waterlogged, and we certainly had no responsibilities whatsoever in those days. The main objectives were “Drink your Busch Light. Don’t tip your canoe.” – simple enough, right?
Well, you would think so. Until your date ended up as clumsy as you are, and you both capsized and suddenly watched all your stuff floating down the river. If I remember correctly, it happened that way for me every year. That’s why it’s so puzzling that I picked “canoe” for the excursion last week, 25-ish years after those sorority days. For whatever reason, I remembered myself to be an “experienced canoer.”
My experience did not prevent the capsizing of our canoe the other day, within five minutes of launching from the shore. We didn’t see the huge rock coming. But we did nail it, and that was enough to dump the youngest daughter and me into the river along with our lunch cooler, my friend Julie’s floral tote bag (with daughter’s cell phone inside), and a large beach towel. And the canoe was instantly wedged, not budging and quickly filling with water. Luckily, the river came only to our knees, so there was never any true threat of drowning. Well, until the current grabbed me and took me down and underwater. That’s why they want you to wear the handy orange life jacket.
You know the vintage song “That’s What Friends Are For”? That explains the rest of my day. Lynne & Julie dumped the water out of the canoe (after recording the humorous tipping incident on cell phone video for posterity!) Then I was re-assigned to a kayak for the day, first a tandem; then a single. Who knew a kayak was EASIER to operate than a canoe? Certainly not me until now. My youngest stayed put in the canoe all day, but with assistance from our friends who took turns guiding her safely down the river while my teen daughter skillfully handled her own kayak. We all made it to shore in one piece.
The only sacrifice was my shoe. Yeah, that happened. They were my cute black glittery “jellies” I ordered last summer from Amazon. They seemed like a good shoe selection that morning – waterproof, covered a good portion of my foot, and “summery fun” – also easy to slip off and float away. Oopsie.
(It’s tough to maneuver jagged river rocks wearing only one flimsy shoe.)
This is the story of how our sweet and simple summer has begun. Why do I describe it this way? Because we’re embracing the basics, of course! Swimming. Board Games. Porch Time. Grilled Dinners. Cold Drinks. Berry Picking. Pie Making. Walking to Town Square. Hand-Dipped Ice Cream. And some days, just soaking up the glorious A/C inside with a nice Netflix binge. (We just finished 76 episodes of “Riverdale” – highly recommend!)
No big events or parties. No baseball. No concerts. No vacations on our calendar, aside from a few days we’ll stay with grandparents in a woodsy cabin only 90 minutes away.
Before we know it, August will here too soon, and a new and very different kind of school year will start. One where The Precious Pair will become a high school sophomore and a 6th grader in middle school. Already.
And that’s exactly why the sweetness and simplicity of this summer are so important to me. Because in this strange year, I’ve both appreciated and resented the status of life. Can you relate? Can you decide? Which is it – a good thing or a bad thing that we were stuck in our houses and sent home from work and school and banned from dining and most shopping and socializing? If I was a betting woman (and I am, but only on the Kentucky Derby!), I’d say that most of you discovered good things about yourself and your time and your family during Quarantine. I don’t want to lose sight of those good things, including the value of the extra time I’ve had with my girls throughout 2020 so far, coupled with the joy of now getting to see some of the family and friends whom I’ve not seen as much as I would like this year.
My day on the river allowed me to enjoy both together – family & friends. And it gave me new experience as a kayaker. My canoeing days might be over, but never forgotten. And there’s a jelly shoe out there to prove I left the river having lost something, but I left with much more gained: memories made, adventure discovered, and laughter still lingering.
After the unusual and challenging first half of this year, I wish for more of the sweet and simple things during Summer 2020, not only for myself, but for all of you out there. Someone just reminded me that the first official day of summer is also the longest day in any given calendar year. That means with each passing day of summertime, we’re losing minutes of sunlight. So don’t let them float away without a trace. Yep, like my shoe. 😉
Enjoy your simple summer!