Life with a smile: In which we excel at water sports

Published 6:34 am Saturday, August 18, 2018


Contributing writer

The summer of 2018 will be long remembered in clan Snyder as a season of daring exploits on the high seas. Songs will be sung and epic poems recounted about our adventures.

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OK, OK — there will probably not be heroic poems told about our trip to the water park or my fledgling attempts at paddleboarding, but that just goes to show you the limits of epic poetry.

For example, I’m quite confident my youngest daughter’s transformation from enthusiastic splasher to confident water sprite over the course of the summer is worthy of at least a rhyming couplet or two. She attended a day camp with daily swimming, and I had duly outfitted her at the start of the season with a hot pink flotation vest that would allow her to frolic without undue risk of drowning.

About halfway through the summer, she announced she had stopped wearing it. Her counselors verified her abilities, and that was that. She was off and swimming  — at least in the shallow end.

Farewell pink vest, your time is done // I’ll swim without you in the sun

It’s better when I sing it, I swear.

My daughter wasn’t the only one cataloging new skills. I tackled not one but two modes of aquatic transportation this summer: canoe and paddleboard. Growing up in Illinois, my childhood was relatively devoid of water activities, and thus I came to the ripe old age of 36 never having set foot in a canoe. Aghast at this revelation, a friend of mine decided to remedy the situation and hauled both me and his canoe to Stanford one morning for a maiden voyage around Cedar Creek Lake.

It was a lovely experience, with sightings of various wildlife, including herons and velociraptors. Well, I didn’t actually see the velociraptors, but I’m quite sure I heard them moving about in the rushes along the shore. I may have also spotted a mosasaur cruising under the canoe, though my companion feigned disbelief in my powers of prehistoric reptile identification.

I can feel your raised eyebrows, gentle reader, but I am telling you — that place felt primordial.

No dinosaurs made an appearance during my paddleboarding excursion on the Kentucky River several weeks later, but that could be because I kept belting out sections of “Just Around the River Bend” from the animated Disney movie “Pocahontas.” Don’t judge me! I was standing up, paddling downstream, and literally looking ahead to the next bend in the river. Singing was not optional.

Sadly, my short-cropped hair does not ripple very majestically in the wind, a fact which somewhat marred my homage to the native princess. My neon green life jacket was probably also not entirely appropriate for the fantasy, although I like to think that Pocahontas would have approved of my safety precautions.

I look once more, just around the river bend // we paddle on, engulfed by giggles that never end

While resting triumphantly on my somewhat soggy laurels after all this glorious aquatic adventuring, I must humbly admit to one area of embarrassing ineptitude this summer — sunscreen. The overall chaotic tenor of our lives this summer apparently rendered me incapable of applying sunscreen to myself. My children were fine. I managed to overcome their whining, writhing and weeping, and successfully slathered them in adequate protective goo.

I, on the other hand, managed to score a sunburn during nearly every major outing.

They were weird sunburns, too, clearly indicative of a distracted mind. You could see the exact moment my focus shifted to some other pressing issue, my inattention emblazoned on my forearm or shoulder in the form of fingerprints where I left off in the sunscreen application process.

But never mind. We water warriors are undeterred by the occasional sunburn as we quest ever onward for glory, fortune and happy memories.