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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Go play

We've finally got in a patch of really decent weather. Beloved has taken over the mowing during my convalescence.

"I feel great. I could mow." I bounced around the living room for emphasis.

"Dr. Reed said no heavy lifting. And stop that."

She doesn't have enough shoulder -- a touch of arthritis -- for a cold start, but enlisted me to crank the infernal device, then shooed me away.

"Go play! Take a walk or something."

Yeesh.

But I'm not that comfortable walking along our semi-country roads by myself. Everyone here does these walks in pants, except me; in pants I feel self-conscious because they create mixed gender signals on my angular body, and in a dress I feel vulnerable alone.

I can only walk so far at a time, too -- though this is improving. Yesterday, at work, I wore a step counter, and the count for the whole day was over 6,000. Who says librarians sit still all day? But serious hiking is beyond me yet -- things rub up against each other that haven't sufficient protection this early in their little lives.

I thought I might sun myself a bit, so I ran into the house for my swimsuit, a black one-piece Spandex with crisscross straps, from Jantzen.

Mirror check.

Ahh! That's how I've always wanted to look ...

A little late in life (sigh). But better late than never.

I hadn't been in the chaise lounge very long when I became aware of tension in the air. Beloved's not used to lawnmowers, and I'm not used to lounging while someone else does the grunt work. I felt an urge to kibitz, and she could feel me feeling that urge; I could see her looking back at me and frowning just a bit. This was a skill she wanted to pick up in her own way, and I was crowding her by being in the line of sight.

So I went down to the garage and got out Little Eva, my kayak.

Because this boat weighs less than twenty pounds, it's safer for me to handle, just now, than the lawnmower. I can pop it into the back of the Saturn wagon and there's no need to lift it overhead for a tie-down.

I stopped at the local country store for a fishing license. The lady behind the counter, from whom I have made purchases for over twenty years, couldn't quite place me as I've only been a woman in the store a very few times.

"You've had a license in Oregon before?"

"Yes, for decades."

She typed from my driver's license into the Fish and Game computer.

"Oh, look at that!" She turned the monitor so I could see the record.

There, in the field for sex, was the word "male."

She laughed. I joined in, though a bit apprehensively.

"Sometimes they just hit the wrong button. Lemme fix that for ya." CLICK.

It was that easy, for once.

"Need any steelhead tags?"

"No, I don't like to bother the wild fish, I just catch stockers."

"Oh, a girl who knows her fish! Okay, here ya go, and good luck!"

At the reservoir, I found there was a regatta in progress. High school and junior high rowing teams were competing in heats of four boats, each with its own motorboat in attendance, and an official boat watched over all. Orange floats were posted at intervals across the water.

I stopped by the park keeper's house.

"Is it okay to go out? Looks like the water's been pre-empted."

"Nahh, it's okay. You know how to stay out of trouble anyhow."

"Why, thank you, sir. Would you like to take Little Eva out for a spin?"

"Heh, heh heh, maybe when the water warms up. If I was to roll that thing over right now, I'd have a heart attack. You go and have fun, now."

''K. Bye!" I waved to Mrs. Park Keeper over his shoulder, sitting on the front porch, knitting. She waved back.

I saw there was some wind, but not too much chop, and plenty of sun. Settling into my seat and pushing off with the paddle felt like a homecoming.

I did drop a line in the water, from habit more than anything. This first day I had a few bites but didn't set hook in time, and so mostly just paddled. In the sitting position, legs extended, I could tell that my recently rearranged bits were under no strain at all, though I didn't feel like paddling hard -- a leisurely stroke was called for. I putzed up to the dam, seeking smooth water in the massive concrete structure's wind shadow, watching an osprey hovering in the faster air above the floodgate crane.

Drifting back toward the boat basin, I ate lunch and played around in the heavy wakes of speedboats.

Some things were notably different than before. I had been a dedicated kayak fisherman in the bygone era and, by carrying a spare empty bottle with me for umm, elimination purposes, could stay on the water for over four hours at a time. Now, as a kayaking woman, I find things are just a bit more technical. Within a couple of hours I had to head in and run for the ladies' room at the boat basin. I could learn to use an STP device -- maybe someday.

While I was thus occupied, a shore-fishing family had stopped to admire Little Eva, drawn up on the beach.

"That's a cute little canoe-thingy you got there, ma'am," said the father. His daughter, a beautiful wind-tousled blonde of about nine, leaned against him, rod in hand.

"How did you all do today?" I asked.

"Oh, we got two. Two little ones, just big enough to keep."

"Bet you caught them both, didn't you, dear?" I asked the girl, with a conspiratorial smile.

She looked up at him, as if checking his ego, and, reassured, nodded to me with a twinkle in her eye.

We all laughed.
--risa b

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