I just finished reading The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl. A Minnesota writer. Her book talks about the art of people who have wasted time in solitude then produced some wonderful work from their inner reflections. I realized that I have wasted some time recently in my own way, instead of locking myself in a castle tower I travelled to our seasonal campground and launched myself onto the waters surrounding De Kaag. As far as producing wonderful worldly works… well let’s just say I am still searching to improve.
Last week Tuesday, I packed my bike and wished my hubby a safe flight to the great US State of Texas. My destination, our seasonal campsite on De Kaag. I saw calm weather was forecasted. This offered the perfect opportunity for me to fit in an early morning kayak paddle.
The issue with this seasonal campsite is that it is only accessible either by a 16 km bike ride or waiting until mid morning (the magic hour of 10 am when all Dutch seem to come alive after coffee break ) for the bike water ferry to take me across De Kaag. Making it a shorter 8km ride to the campsite. I opted for a short ride.
Our campsite has suffered some damage this summer from the storms that moved through the area. We lost our front tent. Old and ripped to the point that repair was not possible. We had to toss it out. Not that this was a huge loss but it did mean that we could no longer store our Cedar in the front tent and had to haul her home where she is now tucked away on her stand in the back garden until we decide to take her out.
Without a front tent, I sat in front of the caravan enjoying the summer breeze the entire afternoon.
In the evening, I took a long bike ride to a wonderful village, Hoogmade. I rode through the pasture land and along the canals. I checked out the bridges along the way to see if I could make it under them in the kayak or the canoe. At one point I was not paying attention and missed the bike path turn off. That “just not right feeling” had me stop and check my phone to see exactly where I needed to go. The “feeling” was right I was about 2 kms off my route. I had to back track and get on the right path towards the village.
I arrived at my destination, the grocery store, to pick up some supplies for the next day. I was greeted friendly by several people as I entered the store. A lady outside the store actually had a nice conversation with me about how nice of a night it was to be biking. She could have become a friend of mine easily on some other timeline just by her sincere down to earth nature. I loaded my food stuffs into my bike bags and headed back down the bike path past windmills, canals and pastures back to the noise of the social campground.
The next morning brought calm. I felt in an instant, the stillness of the wind at 7 am when I pulled myself out of the caravan with a cup of coffee. I quickly walked the short distance to see the lake conditions and it was amazing! It is rare to see De Kaag calm and still like mirrored glass. I quickly returned to the caravan to get the kayak on the water before the wind decided to change.
I planned a longer route than normal. I was feeling good for the first time in a few months, wanted to push my body a bit. I concentrated on my paddle strokes, using my core, placement of the paddle in the water, timing each careful stroke. I made good time. It felt liberating to be on the water again. I paddled into the Vennemeer. Once there, instead of my earlier paddles heading North out of the lake towards the campsite, I headed South out of the lake. I could see, off to my right, apartment complexes of Leiden; on the left side, flat farmland expanses. I paddled away from the city and towards the farmland of the Oud Ade polders.
Early! That is key to a peaceful paddle. I only saw one other paddler the entire two hours I was out and no motorized boats.
The cool thing about paddling early, is that I get to experience the world as the day starts. Cows, heading out of the barn and into the pastures after releasing their milk for the farmer. Birds fluttering over the canals to take a drip into the water or maybe to catch the needed insects for their brood in the nest.
This morning it was spider webs. Thousands of them of every shape and size. In the early morning dew, they revealed their hidden locations. What a sight! All the sparkling webs. Natures artwork.
I suddenly laughed out loud as I remembered our friend Petra last year telling me that she always was clearing the way of spider webs for her husband being the front paddler of the canoe. I had to agree with her, us front canoe paddlers do see our share of webs up close and personal.
At least these spider webs are along the canal and not over them. I thought.
Making my way towards Oud Ade I came to my first bridge of the day. There was no way I was going to limbo myself and the kayak under this one. Time for a portage.
In this last part of my paddle I was rewarded the most perfect conditions for getting pictures of the Church in Oud Ade and the windmill right outside of the village.
Around the bend in the canal and I was heading back to the campground.
I was on the water for about 2 hours and paddled 8kms (4 miles).
A great way to waste my day!
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