I have developed a passion for paddling. It pleases me to the point that I get a bit anxious if I can’t go out. I wonder if it is a shadow of my childhood happily playing in and around the duck and frog filled Northwest Washington swamp that bordered our yard.
It is called SUPPING for stand up paddling if you are cool. But I do a fair bit of it prayerfully or powerfully through the waves on my knees, or sitting, peering into the water, and sometimes I do LDP, which is lay down paddling, definitely not cool, when I am fatigued or just want to enjoy slow low rollers rocking us sweetly in the sun.
Our beat up white boards are already on the beach. I take:
One microfiber dog, Moxy
Her favorite bright orange dummy for throwing.
Round straw hat,
Nice light adjustable paddle.
Lately I have a friend who joins me. Lately Moxy found something, but I will save that story.
We hop on, and head past the first few sets of waves,Moxy in front if it is a stand up day, in back if it is rough and I am kneeling.
I heard something one quiet day I never heard before. fish are kissing the surface of the water. Smooching at their breakfast bugs, no doubt. I could see the little pockmark left behind on the glazed surface of sea when they were near.
We see Sting Rays, like so many dark tiles on the light sandy sea floor. they have a very hurtful sting. Then their cousins, so delightfully leaping four feet out of the water, twirling, an impossible shape for flying, or basking in the sun at the surface, a pair of triangles, silver on one side, charcoal on the other. Manta Rays!
We advance east around the monolithic point whose rough dark volcanic toes reach down past the frothy waves and provide a habitat for neon tetra, twenty legged starfish that can walk upside down, triggerfish, clear little jellies the size of my pinky that sting like nettles.
Rounding the corner of the breakwater the Pelicans watch us closely, raising their fuzzy yellow crests then flying away when we are a few yards from them.
They perch on the bridge as we paddle under into the still water of the mangrove filled lagoon. They dive into the water with spectacular loud splashes, and rarely come up empty. The Hermaan gulls sidle up next to them and shout ow,ow,ow with a human like voice as they steal fish right out of the Pelicans impressive beaks.
In the very early hours the half dozen pelicans sit staggered on their roosts in a favored section of dark green mangroves and remind me of street lights when they are nestled down with their inverted cone shape of white white guano beneath them like a beam of light.
There is a small crescent of sandy beach within the breakwater where we often stop, and Moxy practices jumping into the water from the paddleboard And retrieving her dummy. She gets bolder by the day. By the time she is ten she may be able to fish for us! We start by collecting golf balls.
I hate to break the illusion of nature wild and remote but this lagoon is in a golf course. A big draw for many who come, but Ron and I just don’t seem to have an interest in golfing. Funny thing though; there is a SOMETHING VERY mysterious in the mangrove islands we putter paddle around. IT is a sound! and I do have witnesses to back me up. It is the sound of a golf ball being struck: TOCK!
We have looked and looked and can’t find out what creature or phenomenon this is.
This occurs even in the abscence of any golfers.
We kneel or lay down to glide under one crustacean covered bridge, circumnavigate another island of mangroves with their strange rubbery finger like roots sometimes dangling down as if they can’t quite reach the water.
Bright orange three inch crabs hustle under rocks to hide as we glide by. Creepy sea cockroaches imitate their behavior in greater numbers. Like a shiney potato bug moving way too fast.
Giant puffers, orange coy, egrets grey and stark white, elegant tern (really, they are CALLED Elegant Tern) a rare songbird red or yellow and cactusbirds form up our parade till we head back out, usually with the wind at our back and the waves driving us home. I often practice LDP then, stretch my tingling toes, watch the clouds, then sink into the cool water and push Moxy the last leg home on her private island where she sits or lays by my hat, her toy and the paddle and contemplates the possibility of one final game of fetch when we wash up on the home shore. When was the last time I was really really happy you ask? Why, I would have to say this morning!