once out on the water, it turned out that in my dash to pick the prettiest green kayak, i had also picked the least maneuverable* cow of the lot. but hey! green!
we had democratically (read: stupidly) decided to start the lessons off with the least pleasant item on the to do list: falling out of and getting back into the kayak. so, glacier fed lake, unseasonably cool early june morning, glorious scenery and a bunch of campers watching gleefully from the shore. let's GO!
i was the second one to go under because i thought it beat being the last. it made no difference. the minute i hit the water my brain froze up and i was unable to figure out anything at all, including which end of my kayak was the front and which end the back ("put your leg into the back end! no! the BACK end!") or what to do next ("find the paddle float and unhook it!" (yeah, try doing that with frozen fingers, you young fuck)). my body sent me into such a complete brainless panic that i totally forgot i was wearing a life jacket and was certain i was about to meet my maker (hi mom and dad!) until the instructor reminded me of this fact and the panic eased. somewhat.
there was a lot of panting, shaking and spastic heaving. there was graceless clambering onto the kayak. there was flailing of limbs and muttering of curses through cold-clenched teeth. i was so cold and miserable that i really didn't care about flashing my bathing suit-encased ass** at the world at large as i lay on the kayak wondering what the fuck i was even doing there. once i was in i got to pump the water out and this was the closest thing to fun so far that day.
it turned out later that as mr. monkey went under, his splash skirt wouldn't release and he had to fumble underwater for a bit before he could come out. as evil as this sounds, i am truly glad it was him and not moi, because had that happened to me, i would have called it quits right then and there and never gone anywhere near a kayak again. ever.
at the end of the day we had learned some basic paddling techniques, turning techniques, edging techniques* and some theory. mr. monkey emerged unscathed. moi? i have scrapes and bruises on both sides of my knees, scratched knuckles, scraped shins, and a gigantic bump on my noggin from where i whacked it full force on the car door (i was wearing a sunhat and had no peripheral vision).
it was a good day, but it did have mr. monkey repeatedly shaking his head in wonder at the fact that life is so bloody dangerous for me.
*of course i didn't realise it was the least maneuverable kayak until near the end of the lessons. i spent the whole time thinking i was simply the slowest of the middle aged lot until the instructor enlightened me. "oh, yours won't edge. it's not built for it" this, after i spent countless minutes contorting myself into a yogic pretzel to get the damn beast to tip in a slight but elegant manner.
**renting wetsuits, while a good idea, proved to be a bit of a logistical nightmare so we chose to suffer and suffer we did. oh yes.