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Guest columnist Lynn K. Cooper: Gone kayakin’, and meeting a hero

  • Nate Cook came to Suzanne Welch’s rescue a few weeks ago during a kayak trip on Norwich Lake. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Lynn Cooper, left, and Suzanne Welch a few weeks ago during a kayak trip on Norwich Lake. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Published: 11/7/2019 9:00:27 PM

Our plans to kayak on a windy day after a rainstorm did not turn out as expected. The whitecaps on Littleville Lake in Huntington and the waves splashing over the buoys by the dam was not a good sign. Not a soul was on the water for a good reason; not the safest day to paddle.

A fisherman leaving with his boat in tow looked at Suzanne and me like we were out of our minds to consider the endeavor. The whitecaps and intensity of the wind made common sense kick into place. It would have been difficult to paddle in any direction and we would be fighting the wind constantly.

Plan B: Paddle on Norwich Lake instead. We drove to the public boat ramp and ate lunch sitting on top of the boats and then headed out on the water. Not a single whitecap. Perfect! It was windy but manageable. Halfway around the lake the wind kicked up big time. We avoided the middle of the lake where the wind was strongest. At the far end large rocks appeared in shallower water closer to shore where we maneuvered to avoid hitting them.

I lost sight of Suzanne after I got ahead of her around the bend because the wind blew us further apart and I feared she had capsized. Turning around, my heart raced as I paddled until I spotted the white tip of her paddle. The wind and waves had pushed her as she tried to move around large rocks in the water. Both of us got stuck on some of them.

Whose house and yard we were at we had no clue. They weren’t home. We pulled the boats out of the water and sat on their dock hoping the wind would die down. My kayak weighs 49 pounds and is not as light or narrow as Suzanne’s. Her boat tends to tip in the wind. It was clear the wind would not die down, so we started to walk back to the boat ramp.

The plan was to knock on any door that had a pickup truck in the driveway so we could get a lift back to the cars with the kayaks. Lo and behold we came upon the Retreat at Norwich Lake. There was an ATV in the driveway. Our lift, I hoped, and possibly a ride back to the cars. Walking into the office we met Nate Cook and told him of our predicament. Nate, our hero. We all need a hero every now and then. I have yet to meet a man that was not willing to rescue me when I got in a jam. Most men have good hearts and seem to want to help a woman or another man. I cannot recall a man turning me down and unwilling to help even if they couldn’t solve the problem. I just love that.

Nate gave us a ride back to our kayaks. Nate and Suzanne thought the kayaks would not fit in the back of the ATV. I persevered, saying they would probably fit if we put the bows diagonally in the corners. My kayak, being heavier, fit and stuck out to the side. Suzanne’s boat did not fit so we left it on the lawn.

Plan C: We drove until we hit paved road. ATV’s are off-road vehicles so we couldn’t drive to Route 66 to get to the other side of the lake. We headed back to the retreat. The road veered away from the lake so Suzanne and I walked along the water’s edge to go back to the boat ramp. It was not a long walk.

We both drove back to Suzanne’s kayak and loaded it up onto her car and then went back to the retreat to fetch mine. Our beautiful sunny but windy day was a short trip on the water.

In Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows,” the water rat said to the mole, “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Ain’t it the truth!

Lynn Cooper, of Westhampton, is a retired teacher from Bridge Street School in Northampton.


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