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‘First when there’s nothing but a slow glowing dream.’

The morning light has just broken over the lake. She glances across at the mirrored surface. It is a perfect day! Then she remembers and her heart sinks. There is much to do before she can grab her life jacket and head out the door. Frantic steps charge up and down the staircase.  The kid’s clothes are put out…..check. The baby sitter has been called……check. Breakfast is sorted……check. A willing husband mobilized…….check.

‘That your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind.’

 As I drove out towards Port Credit with sleepy eyes, I thought about our wonderful bunch of ladies……all thrown together in the pursuit of Dragon Boating. We rush down to the Sixteen Mile Creek each week and our patient coach gets us going. Starts and synchronization have been a challenge as we only managed four practices together over the last month. Was this enough to get us through the race? It was surely going to be a case of being ‘thrown out to the wolves.’ My stomach lurched as we made our way across the bridge.

I was in unfamiliar territory and the sight of the well versed crew next to us doing their early morning warm up unnerved me. They had obviously done this before! Stay focused I kept repeating to myself! Just enjoy the race……the words of our coach echoed in my head.

We were off.....

We were off…..

‘Close my eyes, feel the rhythm’

Life jackets on and oars selected we made our way down to our boat. Our drummer hopped in the front and smiled up at us. It was the most magnificent day and the outline of the lighthouse could just be made out through the arch of the bridge. The bright colours of our life jackets mirrored back at us from the clear water. The excitement and nervousness welled up in me. This is it.

“Paddles up! Take it away!”

The rhythm kicked in as we made our way down to the start. There was much maneuvering to keep us lined up at the buoy. We waited and tried not to notice our opponents. Just keep focusing…… Then came the familiar voice of our coach.

Sit up!

Ready, ready…..and we were off. One, two, three……the counting of the first short strokes drummed in our heads. We had to keep together and to feel the rhythm. Then the next ten strokes and we watched each other to keep in time. It was all about being in that moment. We pulled and watched and pulled.  The next ten strokes passed by in a flash. We were now on the home stretch.

‘What a feeling. Being is believing.’

Shouts went out……. we had made it! Our race was over. It had been significant as it had been a first for many of us. We had not been the first to pip the post but so much more had been gained by us all. We had learnt new skills, pushed ourselves and shared our common interest.We had felt like a team.  

The dragon boaters.....Thursday group

The dragon boaters…..Thursday group

 As I walked through the front door that afternoon my bronze medal caught the light of the fading sun.

 

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What do Canadians do on Canada Day? It was going to be our first ever and we were keen to follow tradition. Many of these hard working city dwellers find some respite in the stillness and solitude of the lakes and the forests and they head up to Cottage Country.

 

We packed in all the necessary sustenance and headed out early before the rush. One could notice how the landscape began to undulate and the vegetation changed from only deciduous trees to a mixture of conifers and deciduous. The growth is still a vivid green and hardly has time to show the effects of ageing when the Fall brings about the big drop.

 

After a few hours we drove up to a secluded wooded property, we drove through a maple forest and nestling between the trees was a quaint wooden cottage. Our little bit of heaven for the weekend! But the best was yet to come, from the deck one could take in the view over the lake. What a view! There was a long staircase which meandered down to dock along the waterway where 2 wooden chairs and a boat beckoned me. I succumbed to the wooden chair as the stairs were quite a workout.

 

Here you could really contemplate life and any of your demons that needed to be sorted out. I wiled away many hours down there with a good book in hand or just watched Philip and David pull in brown trout. Josh also took delight in the ‘gone fishing’ activities and managed to taste a few caudal fins in the process. This evoked a primeval instinct in him again. He was transported back to the Koppie in Lonehill when a family of possum ran across the deck. He went into attack mode but fortunately they knew the lay of the land far better than he did and managed to escape his jittering jaws. So peace returned to the water edge again and I was able to just ‘muck about in boats’ till the sun set.

 

It always amazes me how people from your past often cross it again and this weekend was made possible by a South African university friend from Cape Town. There is a kinship that exists between those of us that have lived in Africa. Thank you for reminding me how special it is to be out there in the stillness and to be able to hear my inner voice again.

Mucking about in boats



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