Making a splash

It was good to get jostled out of my comfort zone – and paddle boarding on the Rideau certainly did that.
Photos: Deborah Davis

By Diane Munier


Mom! Mommmm!! Mommmmmmm!!!!!!

I am a little deaf.

“What are you doing, Mom? Crossword puzzles? Again? Come on! Get off that couch – you’re going to take root, for crying out loud. We really, really have to get you out of your comfort zone.” My daughter was firm.

“Huh? What is this we?

“You need to challenge yourself, Mom. Try something new. Do something different. Learn some new skills! Get yourself off that couch!”

“Dear, I am old, and I am creaky. I am allowed to sit on the couch.”

Since when did she become my mother?

“Mom, we’re going to do something fun, something different. We are going to go paddle boarding. Now! Today! Get your bathing suit on. I’m booking us paddleboards.”

Paddle boarding? What? That could be dangerous. It is dangerous. Discovering that my bathing suit had somehow shrunk during the pandemic didn’t cheer me up. But my father had been in the navy and two of my great-grandfathers had been captains in the merchant marine, so I must have some seafaring skills, right? Right?

I swallowed, put on a brave face and off we went. Maybe they wouldn’t take geriatrics. They took geriatrics.

A cheerful young attendant at the paddleboard office handed me a tablet. For some reason, there was a four-page waiver that I had to read and sign. The paddleboard company would not be responsible for any injury, accident, death, drowning or any other misfortune. They were not liable! Well, that was sobering. I signed.

Even more sobering was my first sight of the paddleboards. They are huge, and they are heavy! I had no idea.

On went the life jacket, just in case.

An employee gave us a 10-second lecture on how to use the board. He sounded something like this: “Mumble, mumble, mumble – board. Mumble, mumble, mumble – paddle. Mumble, mumble – on time!”

My daughter kindly carried my board down to the little beach and pushed it into the Rideau River for me. Take note – you have to fasten a cable around your ankle. I wondered why.

More importantly, my daughter was good enough to give me clearer instructions.

Climb onboard. Tippy! Slippery! Kneel on your heels. Start to paddle. Right, left, right, left.

Now, kneel upright. Right, left, right, left. Holding the paddle backward. Straighten your right leg and stand up on that leg. Good, good. Now straighten up your left leg and – aaaaaaaaaaaaah!! Splash!!

My comfort zone and I disappeared into the Rideau River.

Getting onto a paddleboard in shallow water was hard enough. Can you imagine how hard it was to get back on a paddleboard when you are in deep water?

I lunged and caught my paddle, which was floating away. Then I kicked and thrashed and kicked some more. My daughter paddled over to offer suggestions. Between the two of us, I managed – I have no idea how – to heave myself up and onto the board. Whew! I lay there gasping.

Well, there was nothing for it but to start all over again.

I knelt on my heels. I knelt upright. Carefully, I bent my right knee and straightened it. Even more carefully, I bent my left knee, then I tentatively, tentatively stood up.

Breathe, breathe. I was up! I was standing! Right, left, right, left.

This was fun! It was warm, the sun was shining, and the ducks were bobbing. Other paddle boarders drifted by. What a great day!

All too soon, it was time to turn around and return. Did I fall in again? Of course I did! But this time, I was in shallow water near the beach. Instead of paddling triumphantly back, I lugged the board ashore behind me – not so nautically correct. But my daughter was right – it was good to get out of my comfort zone.

Next year, I’ll try bungee jumping! Maybe.

Diane (The Bold) Munier has lived in the Glebe for about 60 years – a record of sorts?

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