The day before yesterday, I waded into the lake, forgetting that my iPhone was in my pocket. I’m not in the habit of either wading into the lake or wearing my shorts (with iPhone in pocket) into the lake, but I wanted to help my neighbors with their sunken dock and so it went. Because of that mishap, I knew I would not be able to share photos with you from my early morning paddle. My husband loves the opportunity to swim in the calm, open water of the lake, but I don’t like for him to be out there alone so I spot him from my bright orange kayak. While this isn’t a challenging paddle for me, it’s very peaceful, especially when we go out first thing in the morning.
The fact that I couldn’t share photos with you got me thinking about an earlier post I wrote about using all of the senses in my writing. As I paddled and watched Tom swim, I considered what would not be conveyed by photos. Sure, you’d see the impossible variations of green on the shoreline, the water calm and undulating, the cabins perched on the shorelines.
But what would you miss? First, you’d miss sound – different sounds than the ones I’d posted about earlier because, of course, I’m in a new setting. You’d miss the rhythmic slapping of my husband’s hands in the water during his two-mile swim. And the gentle dripping of the water from my kayak oars onto the kayak. You’d miss the birds, singing their morning songs while hidden in the trees.
And then there are the physical sensations. The feel of my arms pulling the water with my oar, the refreshing cold of the water droplets landing on my legs, the hula-girl rocking of my kayak when the wake of a powerboat reaches me.
Last, is the smell. The forest in the North Country has a particular, wonderful scent. I don’t know enough about trees to recognize whether it’s the hemlocks or the spruce or the Eastern pines giving off that wonderful deep woods smell. All I know is that it’s distinctive, different from the forests of Pennsylvania and when I smell it, I know I’m in North Country.
Later in the day, we set out again – this time like an armada ready to raid a village. We borrowed kayaks from each of our wonderful neighbors and took the water, every person with an oar in hand.
This paddle was as different as can be from the first. First, I was in an unfamiliar boat. Also, the wind had picked up so the water wasn’t as calm (which means the paddle wasn’t as easy!) Last, I had dawdled on the dock too long and had to work hard to catch up to the boys. As it was much later in the day, the sounds were different, too. There was laughter and splashing of children jumping into the lake, the roar of powerboats pulling tubes and the screaming of jetskis. All of this meant that my perspective on the second paddle was dramatically different from my perspective on the first, despite the fact that we paddled on the same lake, in the same direction. What was the same, you might ask? The lovely scent of North Country forest wafting across the lake.
And you? How did you spend your July 4? What made it remarkable in terms of the senses?