Paddling

They Braved the Storm…

The snow was falling and the wind blowing. Except for getting on an amazing stretch of whitewater, I can’t imagine throwing on a drysuit to paddle last night. Yet that’s exactly what happened. It was TC’s annual Holiday Lights Paddle Parade which has become a “must do” activity in Bend. Last year, after the pent-up feelings from Covid, and unusually warm, clear weather, we had record numbers of paddlers out–over 100 boats and boards. But in crap? Pretty impressive. It just goes to show you the soul of the paddle community, and the allure of the water bringing people together.

I’ve never hidden my joy of the winter holiday season, yet it hasn’t been about the commercialism and consumerism that is now so intrinsically woven into the season–at least in the U.S. THIS is what gets me excited about the season. A desire to come together and be “merry”…to be GOOFY! We are so good at being “cool” or as extreme sports “brahs” say “SIIIIICK”! What I love is the child-like enthusiasm that says “I’m going to put on clothes that are whacky and garish”. I can be silly. Jolly. Merry. I’ve been accused of being “over the top”. Yep, guilty as charged. And loving every minute of it. That’s exactly what I saw last night, as I served hot cocoa spiked with whisky or schnapps…or simply whipped cream. I saw huge smiles on wet, red faces (from the snow and cold). I saw crazy outfits. And I saw people excited to engage with other paddlers…friends and strangers alike, because they shared a common experience. I didn’t see any arguments about politics or the pandemic.

For me, the beauty of the holiday season is the opportunity to put our differences aside and have love for our fellow beings. I’m not saying anything new here. I know that. Yet sometimes it seems we play lip service to that concept. Maybe the annual reminder for a month or 6 weeks will stick? I like the chance to slow down and give attention to my friends and family…that’s how I approach it anyway…SLOWING down. This is opposite what I hear from many. During this time I work less. I do less home projects, less mundane tasks. That’s just me…everyone does it their own way. Regardless of how each of you view the holidays I hope you can relax a bit, lay off the gas pedal in the snow, and find joy in something you do, every day. And if you hum a Christmas tune around me, I won’t complain! See ya out there on the frisky ripples…thanks for listening…

This was NOT last night’s parade…2021 had clear weather and big turnout!!

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