Somewhere in the middle of Vermont, Kelly and I decided to rent kayaks, to paddle and drift two hours down the river despite the rotator cuff strain in my left shoulder. I adapted my stroke to avoid aggravating the strain. Our “drift” wound under bridges and around low-hanging branches, widely splayed across the water, jutting out from centuries-old trees.
The following week, reunited with my daughter after her ten days at Camp Grandma, I lifted her into the air with kisses and delight, and lowered her into a plump soft chair with a big flop – same as I do every couple of weeks at home, except that I held onto her a little too long (story of my life!) and wrenched my back on the way down. Kelly suggested I had an image of myself as a much younger person than I truly am. Yes, my image is from last year! But while I leaned against a heating pad in my sister-in-law’s cabin, propped up by two fluffy pillows, and my daughter played “babysitter” with her cousins in the next room, I realized that, in fact, fifty comes after forty-one. Right after forty-one. Am I entering an age of necessary physical caution, or do I just need to kayak more often?
I once dated a woman whose mom climbed a tree – the same tree – every birthday. I know she made it to at least seventy-eight. Suddenly, the wisdom of such a tradition becomes clear to me. I mean, eventually I could prepare all year for such a thing! She’s not just the quirky and super cool mom of an ex-girlfriend anymore; now she’s my role model in a fresh new way.
Could I make it up a tree each year? Maybe for me, it will be kayaking.
I used to dream of hang-gliding, but that feels a bit out of reach to me at this point. We’ll see. If I can kayak myself upstream to the true fifty, maybe I’ll be strong enough by then to hang-glide. Wouldn’t THAT be a glorious adventure?