Ol’ Joe’s got a Boston whaler
He bought in Key Biscane
He swears since the day he’s got her
she’s been nothin’ but a pain
when the sun’s at his back
And the winds in his face
It’s just him and the wheel
He wouldn’t take a million
For the way it makes him feel
I did not have an ideal childhood. Who does, really? Many, many bits and pieces that I wish had been different, less challenging, less gut-wrenching, but then who would I be today? It is in the challenges that we learn GRIT. Perseverance. It is also that time we spend in the trenches, as children and as adults that we TRULY see and appreciate the good days. The good times. It is those memories we want to latch on to with every ounce of strength we can muster and live in during the times that are confusing, scary and hopeless. I have written often of my grandparent’s farm being that SAFE place for me, my entire life. But, the other place I have always, always found solace, peace, FREEDOM, is the water.
My dad has always had two great loves in his life. Water & Sky. I have never gotten to share that love of the sky with him, but my brother and I were blessed as kids to get to spend countless hours on the water with him. Our family vacation to Hawaii are some of my earliest memories centered around water. Playing in the waves and learning to snorkel. Toes in the sand and salty air in my lungs.
We never did have another vacation with him once my parent’s divorced, but he bought a boat and our summer breaks at his house were spent on the Ohio River.
I learned to ski on that river. I’ve swallowed gallons and gallons of that dirty river water in several failed attempts at getting up on two and eventually one ski. I’ve jet-skied, knee boarded, tubed and just floated in that river, all while thinking there was absolutely no better place in the whole wide world I’d rather be. I’ve learned the lyrics to nearly every Buffett song he’s ever written, listened to Brown Eyed Girl more times than I can count and wondered several times what on earth Magic Carpet Ride was really about.
My dad is also who I canoed with for the first time. He would take me and my brother down some lazy river and I remember more than once my grandparent’s waiting for us at a pick up spot after we’d spent the day paddling, floating and fishing. Such a dichotomy, a speed boat and a canoe. Wind hitting your face, hair flying. Fast. Freedom. Vs. Quiet. Solitude. Reflection. My soul craves all of that. Still.
After I became an adult, I went many years without getting on a boat. Life. Stuff. Not enough time. Not a priority. But, I have had my fair share of days by the water, on the water, in the water. One of the most therapeutic trips I’ve ever been on was to the ocean just a few months after losing my first husband and my mom to cancer. I still remember breathing in that salty air, closing my eyes and listening to the waves, opening them and staring in absolute awe at one of God’s most beautiful and humbling creations. It is where I think I truly FELT the healing power of water for the first time. It was not just a change of scenery. That ocean helped put the pieces of my heart and soul back together after so much loss.
It has been within the last four years though, that we’ve been so incredibly grateful and blessed to get to spend time on Sweetwater Lake in Brown County, Indiana.
It is there I have been reminded just how much I LOVE the water. I love waking up and seeing it’s smooth, glassy surface. Feeling that warm summer air hitting my face as we’re flying across the water. Kayaking as the sun goes down and the lake is finding it’s stillness once again.
Seeing our kids throw out a line trying to catch a fish. The magical feeling of sitting on a boat, in the middle of the lake, looking up at that big ol’ sky full of stars and thinking there is no where I’d rather be than right here, right now. My husband is always telling our kids, be here now. BE HERE NOW. That is the motto my soul is chanting when I’m on the water. BE HERE NOW.
That lake is where we have made precious memories with some of our dearest friends. It is where we have spent cherished time with family. It is where we have laughed, cried, danced, belted out song lyrics at the top of our lungs. It is the place our kids cannot wait to get back to.
Much like a moth to a flame, my soul will always seek water. It lifts my spirits, calms my heart and just Makes. Me. Happy. Maybe this is where I mention that my dad has a sailboat and our fall break plans look like they are shaping up for us to sail. I. Can’t. Wait. Fair warning, there will be What About Bob references aplenty. Stay tuned, friends.
As always, thanks for reading!