We didn't leave the metro area this weekend. Shocking I know, but the VOR had to cancel her plans to party with the Wild Women up in Herbster, WI to catch up at work. I had absolutely nothing planned and executed that plan to perfection. I took a long paddle in the city lakes, passed on both the big U2 show and Steve Earle ("Everybody told me I won't get far on thirty seven dollars and a Jap guitar") and attended the Grumpy's NE folk festival. Seeing folks like Charlie Parr, Paul Metsa, and the Brass Kings while drinking Surly Bitter on tap was a fine afternoon. Sunday morning was spent battling the first TV purchased in twenty plus years and something called a Blue Ray, and seafood on the grill was followed by the VOR and I taking a quick late evening fitness paddle on Long Lake. I did reach detente with a couple things I've been battling with over the past couple years though. I decided I will not evangelize on correct paddling technique when I encounter even the most horrible form and paddle positions. I have also come to peace with the fact that I can't roll worth a damn with a life jacket on.
The scenery, variety, and diversity of people and craft on the Minneapolis city lake chain is always excellent but never more so than with clearing skies on a hot Saturday late morning. Every age, nationality, and socioeconomic status of human being is out paddling and sailing anything that can be paddled or sailed. In the past I've agonized over folks that arm paddle past with their paddles upside down and backwards, blade half in the water for a millisceond, hands 18" apart, and laying back in their rec boats like me in my trusty Lazy Boy in the 4th quarter of a Packer game that's in the bag. I had just finished talking to a couple canoe fisherman about the muskies I'd seen in the lake the past month and passed on their offer to roll for a Rolling Rock (come on people, it was 10:45am!), when an attractive young lady paddled by me with every one of the bad paddling attributes I mentioned above. I greeted her and she replied with a greeting and a nice smile. When I saw the smile I decided my unwanted instruction days on the city lakes had come to an end. She was having fun and so was everyone else on the lake, including me. I had snuck out on Tuesday for an instructor update with Ben Lawry. I learned a pile of things and realized I had a ton more to learn and that I would never reach the Holy Grail of paddling perfection. Neither will the folks tooling around on Lake Calhoun and I guess that's what bonds us. The smile said it all. Who give a rats behind about paddle position, torso rotation, and posture on a gorgeous summer day on a warm inland lake? Ok, maybe me to a certain extent but I plan to keep that to myself from here on.
I hit some rolls with the Euro blade then missed a few. When I switched to the Greenland blade I did the same thing. The forward finishing rolls were not smooth and it was a real struggle. In keeping with my new zen like city lake mindset I just wrote it off to an off morning. On Sunday nights quickie paddle on Long Lake I rolled a bit while the VOR put some sunscreen on her Avocet. I was still off on the rolls. Until the lightbulb went on. I took off the pfd and was suddenly competent again. Don't get me wrong, if I go over with the life jacket on I'm coming up. It just feels so much better and unfettered without the big poofy vest on. I would love to entertain any theories as to why this is but, like my non interference on the city lakes, I plan on just living with it.
Lastly, I attended 4pm mass at St Olaf in downtown Minneapolis to hear the VOR sing in the annual celebration of the patron saint of the parish, medieval King Olaf II of Norway, later elevated to sainthood. The Norwegian flags in the church and my substantial Norwegian heritage made me think of the recent horror near Oslo. I guess there isn't that much difference between a 'Crusader' and a 'Jihadist' after all, at least from what I've read in the history books. It's a huge stretch but maybe if people just 'let it go' like the me and the rec boaters on Lake Calhoun, and decide that different strokes for different folks was OK, then life around our globe would be much much simpler and peaceful. Take a cleansing breath and think Ommmmmm. It sure can't hurt.