Have kayak, will paddle — in the front lawn?
Almost everyone has a countdown to something. Be it opening day in baseball, maybe the first regular-season game for their favorite football team. The first day of hunting, or the first day the ski areas open their trails. I, just like the lot of them, have my own countdowns.
This year, my focus was on two things: The start of the Major League Soccer season and spring. I actually am pretty positive I'm not the only one in New England this year that counted down to March 20.
Winter was pretty harsh on us Mainers this year. It is the first long, cold and snowy winter that we have had like this in well over a decade. It got to the point where I was driving by lakes and ponds and imagining a giant electric heating blanket being laid across them to melt away all of the ice.
The itch to get my kayak out was a persistent one, and one that grew more and more as spring neared.
My yard on Beechwood Street in Thomaston, like many in the area, is far from flat. It is sloping, and it dips and it rolls. When it rains this time of year, the ground is still partially frozen and partially water logged, so we get a lot of stagnant water at the end of the yard.
Coming home from work on March 20, I was on the phone with my older sister, Nicole, and upon pulling up to my house, I interrupted our conversation with several expletives followed by a big, hearty, belly laugh. I'm almost 100 percent positive that she thought I had lost my mind. I could not believe it. The yard was the worst I had ever seen it. The whole bottom half of the driveway was gone, as was about a third of my front lawn — and given that it is a pretty big yard, that is a lot of lawn to be underwater.
This time of year, it is common to hear me say that I am going to kayak my front lawn. I have said it for the past four springs that we have been there, and I do not think that people believed me at how bad the yard got. Sure, I have posted pictures of it on Facebook and Twitter, but you cannot really grasp it unless you are there.
This year on the first day of spring, I knew Nicole had to pick up my nephew at school, so I asked her to stop by my house first, telling her that I needed her to do me a favor.
While I waited for her, I dragged my kayak down my driveway, dug out my paddle and grabbed my camera. This event was going to be documented. If anything, I was sure that it would give people a good chuckle and maybe relieve some of the winter blues we all get up here in the Great White North and give hope of spring maybe making its way to visit us in higher temperatures as well as on the calendar.
I gave the kayak a solo test run, just to see if it would actually go across the Lawn Pond — as I had dubbed it. Sure enough, it made its way to the far side. Then it turned around, floated back to the center of the water, then sat there slowly turning circles. I had on my rain boots, and they come up fairly high, so without a second thought, I started to walk in to retrieve my boat. I made it maybe three steps before I realized, I was not getting my boat that way. The water was quickly proving to be at least up to my knees in the center, and my boots didn't come up that high.
With my paddle and a little elbow grease, I was able to give it a good shove to ground it on the far side. I was pulling it down the road side of my lawn, back to my driveway, when one of the dump trucks that use the gravel pit up the road from me came by. The driver actually came to a complete stop and watched me, a rather curious expression on his face. At least I would like to think it was curiosity I saw there, but it was probably him thinking I was weird or experiencing sleep deprived insanity.
When Nicole got to my house, I handed her my camera and climbed into my little blue boat and took off. While I paddled around my lawn, my dog, Dunkin, sat on the lawn up by the house watching like a hawk. He was quite upset that he did not get to come kayak with his human mom.
I live off a pretty busy road, and it gets a lot of traffic all day long. However, it really starts to pick up around two in the afternoon — when I was out for my "welcome spring" front lawn paddle. When I would near the road, the expressions on the faces of those coming up the road were priceless. They would lean over their steering wheels and the looks on their faces clearly questioning if they were seeing what they thought they saw.
Then, as they would drive by, and there I am, paddling around, laughing, they realized they really did see what they thought they saw.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I wanted to kayak pretty badly, so I put my boat where I could. I know I'm not the only one who is ready for some kayaking. Or green grass.
In the days that followed, taking Dunkin out for runs and walks, I started paying more attention to the yards that we would pass. I noticed a lot of them had sizable lawn ponds that I could drop my boat in. I was like that kid who sits outside of the video game store for hours before the release of that new console or game.
I like winter and all, as a snowboarder, it is only natural. But heck, come on with spring already.