Thursday, January 22, 2015

Savouring the sweetest sea kayaking "lemonade"...another of Nature's lessons.

A Valley Etain 17.5, traversing the loch.
The world outside is simply the greatest resource for a lot of life's most important lessons. That's probably why I'm always much happier out-of-doors. This week, once again, Mother Nature demonstrated the rewards of living life with an open heart, an open mind...and an attitude of optimism and hopefulness. She made it very clear that there are always great treasures in store when we seek to make the best of any given situation.

We had been invited to share in several days of paddling on the west coast, with Ian, Douglas, and Mike. The stormy weather was finally settling and there was a "window" of opportunity. Our hearts leapt at the thought. I began immediately thinking about how to rearrange the schedule to make some days on the water possible. We were ready for this adventure. It was doable, it would happen...until I thought about the drive through the mountains to get there.

Our ageing, but (mostly) faithful Ford Focus, had recently experienced some mechanical "hiccups". Additionally, it only has summer tires - a difficult confession for someone who has spent most of his life in Canada. There was a good chance that road conditions could be a bit "iffy", with some possible hard-packed snow and ice, at the higher elevations. I was, admittedly, nervous about the thought of driving from coast to coast, with less than ideal equipment.

I began to see this unique opportunity, to spend time with three adventurous and highly experienced paddlers, evaporate before my eyes. The bitter taste of a small "lemon" seeped into my consciousness. It didn't feel very good...and needed to be rinsed aside...quickly.

A Scorpio LV, heading for the hills.
Defeatism, and its closely related cousins, pessimism and ingratitude, can spawn feelings of resentment, jealousy, cynicism, and indignation. Like the proverbial "bridge to nowhere" - none of them lead to any meaningful place. They waste our time, life's most precious commodity.

On the other hand, along with an attitude of thankfulness, the desire to make the best of life's circumstances is a key ingredient to happiness, and peace of mind. We all hurt, sometimes, and often it is our negative and defeatist response to a given reality that perpetuates the cycle of pain. Optimism and hopefulness, however, help us to transcend the pot-holes and speed bumps...and the nasty-winter-driving-conditions-without-snow-tires scenarios, that we all encounter.

Lemons need to be transformed into "lemonade". It just requires an open mind, an open heart...and a healthy blend of optimism and gratitude. Life is, after all, what we make it - after circumstances have had their "go". It might as well be a glass that's half full, as half empty.

So, we couldn't just sit and "stew" about our inability to get to the west coast. There would be other opportunities.

We loaded the kayaks on the roof of our "moderate terrain kayak transport vehicle" and headed for a closer venue, where the roads would accommodate the summer tires...Perthshire's, Loch Tay.

A great day on the the snow-covered Highlands.
After an easy drive to Kenmore, we launched the kayaks from the frozen beach and paddled for about four hours, pausing frequently to breathe in the magic and majesty of the snow-covered Munros. The air was minus three, cold and bracing, but the warmth of the low January sun could be felt through the dry suits. The source of greatest warmth, however, was having turned a disappointment into an opportunity.

Seeking to make the best of any given situation in life is always transformational, and almost always guarantees a treasure of an experience. Nature rewarded this effort with some of the sweetest sea kayaking "lemonade". And we savoured it.

Lemons to lemonade!


  1. Great work D & J !

    We did miss your company, but its very clear that you went much further than lemons to lemonade - taking the grain of an idea, malting it with determination, adding highland water and turning it to a glass brimming with a fine single malt of a day :o)

    ..and the roads were an adventure in themselves!

    1. Haha! Thanks for that, Ian. You make it sound like a very sophisticated "beverage" indeed! But, we will certainly agree, Loch Tay is a pretty classy venue for a Plan "B". Looking forward to hearing about your trip - and the roads! Warm wishes. Duncan.

  2. Always interesting reading your blog and this time there is a great comment by Ian too!
    Great pictures of your beautiful landscape from plan B. Wise decisions are often rewarded as your trip shows. Best regards,

    1. Hi Leif, always great to hear from you, thank you for your kind words. Decision-making can be fraught with conflicting interests but sometimes a Plan B works out pretty well. It did this time as much as we'd have loved to be out there enjoying Plan A. Warm wishes to you. Duncan.

  3. Hi Duncan, a self generated expedition is always the sweetest. I do hope we will get to paddle together soon though, Douglas :o)

    1. Hi Douglas, we look forward to that too, believe me. Yes, you're so right. Sometimes it's the unplanned and the serendipitous that turn out to be the most delightful of adventures. Your days on the water, however, are looking simply wonderful. We'll connect soon. Warm wishes. Duncan.