(Originally published June 5, 2010, in The Kane County
I am so psyched! My son and I are participating in the
49th Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race on the Fox
"Hey Noah, I heard about this canoe race…" I ventured, a few
"You and me, Mom!" he shouted, high-fiving me. Yes! And I didn't
even have to talk him into it.
You see, I have an unrequited love of
Several years ago, when we lived in Maine, Noah and I ran out to
buy strawberries and came home with two kayaks instead. I
remembered that there was a 'Friends and family sale' happening at
the Old Town Canoe company warehouse near our home - I was just a
'friend-of-a-friend,' but that didn't slow me down - so off we went
on our little detour, just to 'have a look,' and ended up snagging
two gorgeous double-helix sit-on-top kayaks with nary a scratch for
the bargain price of $75 each. Do you have any idea how much those
bad boys retail for? Suffice it to say that I heard a choir of
angels singing as I whipped out my checkbook and hoisted those
yellow babies onto my truck. Thanks to my failure to pay attention
to the slip-knot lecture in Girl-Scouts they almost slid completely
off as we rounded the first corner, but eventually we all made it
home in one piece. Just as Todd and baby Holly woke up from their
"Those aren't strawberries," Todd said, shaking his head as he
stared out the window, but he was a good sport about it. Sadly, we
only got around to using them once before moving to Chicagoland
five years ago. We hauled them all the way out here, but there was
no storage in our fourth-floor condo or even a way to maneuver them
into the elevator, so, long story short, I donated them to a
special-needs camp. Good cause and all, but still, I wince when I
think about it.
The fact that we eventually bought a house in Batavia and now
could just hike two blocks and simply plunk our boats down onto
Depot Pond - if we still had boats - and were feeling really strong
- just makes me nuts. The lure of the river is louder than ever and
tomorrow's race has inspired me to get over my grief and get out
Though I've tried white-water rafting (on the Nantahala and
Ocoee rivers, down south) and other types of paddling, Noah and I
have only paddled together a few times before - and never in a race
- so this ought to be interesting. Usually we giggle and do a lot
of unsynchronized paddling in circles, but perhaps we can find the
'sweet spot' and let the current carry us this time. Or maybe we'll
try 'drafting.' Isn't that what race car drivers call it when they
drive directly behind faster drivers and 'ride their wind?' Yeah,
we'll have to give that a try. It is a race, after all, so if we
can just get a rhythm going and cooperate with each other …
Come to think of it, canoeing six miles from Batavia to
McCullough Park in Aurora might be a perfect time for a 'chat.'
Surely there's some life lesson I haven't gotten around to
lecturing Noah about yet. He'll be stuck in a boat with me for
like, an hour, right? I'll have to make sure I sit in the back so
he can hear me. On second thought, I might do better just
singing that catchy camp tune about the 'tippy canoe,' but I can't
remember how it goes. I do recall that old campaign slogan though,
"Tippy canoe and Tyler too (no kids, I don't actually 'remember' it
- I'm not that old!)." I wonder how many times I'll have to chant
that before my firstborn tosses me overboard?
I told Noah I entered us into the adult/youth division. "We
could win a trophy!" he said, excited. We'll see, but I'll be
delighted if we simply make it to the finish line. You know,
without tipping over and dunking ourselves in the drink with our
(look for part 2 in a few days…)
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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