It was cold here today — 15 degrees celsius cold — so of course we stayed inside for much of the day. By eleven a.m., I was itching to do something other than sitting around in the cottage reading. I proposed a paddling excursion, which K and N both initially declined and R and E enthusiastically accepted. I decided not to let N beg off, so I offered him a deal: paddle now or paddle later. He chose now.
We bundled up on top: sweatshirts and rain jackets under our live vests. On the bottom half we wore shorts. I have to say, I was quite comfortable. R and N complained of the cold, and that was only the beginning of their complaints.
About 30 metres from the dock, R said her hands were hurting. I corrected her grip on the paddle, gave her some pointers, and encouraged her to keep going. We had a destination in mind: what I call the “tree graveyard,” a small inlet where there are tree trunks and stumps under the water. It’s beautiful and R wanted to see it, but she was stopping every couple of minutes to massage her hands. N complained that we were moving too slowly, and when I finally got us going more quickly, he turned his kayak to face away from us and stopped paddling. He did that repeatedly over the hour that we were on the water.
It wasn’t all complaints. R, N, and E all like to sing, which is a great way to keep paddling in rhythm, so we sang some rounds: the obvious “My Paddle Keen and Bright” first, and then a couple of songs we learned in choir at violin camp in summers past. For about fifteen minutes we were singing:
Black socks, they never get dirty
The longer you wear them, the blacker they get.
Sometimes I think I should launder them,
Something inside me says “don’t wash them yet!”
Not yet, not yet, not yet, not yet…
Mr. December and K caught up with us in the canoe. By this point R couldn’t paddle at all anymore, so we tied a rope to the front of her kayak and the back of mine. I towed her the rest of the way. Heading back from the tree graveyard N was mulishly stopping, covering his face with his hood, and refusing to respond when I spoke to him; I ended up towing him, too. It was a great workout.
Back at the shore, R did her best (which wasn’t very good) to pull her kayak up onto the sand. N didn’t even bother. He threw down his paddle, left his kayak floating between the rocks, and ran up to the cottage. I was not impressed. Later I learned that he was cold, tired, and frustrated; he hated the entire expedition. Not that it excused his behaviour, but at least I understand… sort of.
In a bid to do something special in the afternoon I baked banana bread (nobody was going to eat those spotted bananas anyway) and made some blueberry tea, then invited everyone to the table for poetry teatime. I expected some resistance but shouldn’t have; there was fresh banana bread on the line. Everyone else ate and drank while I read one Shel Silverstein poem after another, chosen by each child in turn.
Apparently I’m good at reading aloud, because I was then persuaded to read a few entries from The Weighty Word Book before I got up to prepare dinner (E and I are on K.P. today.) And then I made my escape, finally, out to the deck where I’m looking at the mist over the lake and typing this blog post to the sounds of raindrops and honking geese. The spitting rain doesn’t bother me, but my computer might not agree; I suppose it’s time to go inside and be a parent again.