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When I was in elementary school, paddling was something no
self-respecting kid would ever come near. Today, I not only go near it, I dream about it! In deference to masochists everywhere, I’m
talking about the kind of paddling you do with oars; white water, flat water,
touring and recreational paddling.
I usually get the itch to paddle in late April when I see
puddles forming near piles of snow in parking lots around town. Or when the
drainage ditches clog with run-off because the frozen ground hasn’t caught up
with the melting snow. Sometimes the urge to float my boat comes way too soon,
For instance, anytime during the winter, when I see that
patch of open water on the Chena between the utility plant and the University
Avenue bridge, I want to pull out my kayak and ride it like a sled down the
slippery banks to boating bliss. Hey, if the ducks can paddle year-round, why
Stark reality and self-preservation kick in long before I dig
the dusty craft out of deep storage, so I resign myself to another day, week or
month of gliding on water in its solid form. Nordic skiing is, after all, a
great workout. I will even pass the time by enduring a day of tubing at Birch
Hill. I’ll imagine that the tow rope is not pulling me uphill, but that I’m in
a raft floating gently downstream on a meandering ribbon of fluidity.
Well, now that the rivers are flowing and the lakes are
almost ice-free, I can scull anytime the mood strikes. Still, I must put away
my skis, boots and poles as I dream of the white hills of winter.
-a guest post by Bill Wright
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