Monday, July 7, 2008
Yesterday I went kayaking at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. I dragged my mother, wife, and three children away from the basement, the holy land of my parent's home, as holy as the catacombs in Rome. Usually they play down there the majority of the time whenever we visit Charlotte. I don't know if my mother actually has relics or the remains of any saints, but their must be something down there, at least an ark or a bush that burns and is not consumed. I've been down there and its cool and all, but the kids see things I clearly do not. My children beg for the adventures presented in the basement at Grammy Charlotte's house. They have forts, and numerous Halloween costumes, music, free space to run, books, and of greatest importance--Grammy Charlotte. So dragging these five basement worshippers away from their sanctuary was a long shot. Somehow, they took the bait and we traveled the 20 miles Southeast towards the Catawba River where thousands of horses power six turbines creating whitewater where lack of elevation change would say there could not be rapids.
It was the first time in almost a year that I had been in a kayak and the first time in more than a year that my children had seen me in a kayak. Usually kayaking is a fairly quiet and reflective activity for me. I go and surf on the artificial waves in Charlotte. I talk to a few people, but most I keep to myself. Sharing the experience with my children as they looked on from the side was an altogether different kind of experience. They wanted to know when they could go kayaking. I imagined converting an old Mr. Clean C-1 into a little C-2 or OC-2 for Kathryn and George. I would teach them a few paddle strokes. They both need to become more proficient swimmers before they get any canoeing lessons, but it could be a year or two away.
Paddling was life changing for me when I first encountered it as an 11 year old at Eagle's Nest Camp. I was never the same after that first trip on the lower Green River. I wonder if it will transform my children. It is certainly okay if it does not, but they at least deserve an opportunity and I could provide it them a few years earlier in life.