In a blog post dated July 30, 2016 entitled “You Are Here” — (and “How To See” The Bon Secour River Like You’ve Never Seen) I encourage kayakers to fine tune their senses, to “see” things in a new way, to look at the seemingly mundane through a different lens — to capture an image of a scene that announces, “You Are Here.”
“I am Here” implies I am an active participant and am “present” in the moment. Senses are heightened and I rely on using observational skills to differentiate various scents, sounds — even shadows cast — to determine the time of day, for example.
If you kayak with a partner, you may engage in lively — or hushed conversation — depending on the situation. If you want to see how long you can paddle and not spook turtles sunbathing on a log, you will be as quiet as a mouse. Inevitably, the turtles hit the water. They seem to just relax their bodies and roll in. (If you didn’t see the turtles fall off the log, you might jump — startled at the sound of the hard splash. The splash sound is different than the sound mullet make flopping in and out of the river. Or the sound of cormorant as they disappear suddenly, only to splash and re-appear somewhere else.)
If you are like me, you struggle with a loss for words on how to describe the scenes to friends or family.
How DO you describe the unique shrill of blackbirds hidden somewhere in the marshy grass — or the explosive bubbling exhalation of air that dolphin make when breaching the water? How do you convey the hair-raising tingling you feel when a pod circles your kayak?
I suppose one can take videos to showcase. That is the preferred method of “sharing experiences.” But personally speaking, when I’m behind a camera I’m not completely “present” in the moment. I am “recording” — not observing. I am photographing — not “imprinting” the moment.
For the past several years I’ve worked on fine tuning my senses. I can tell you, for example, when chickadees are having it out with bluebirds who have claimed their nesting spot.
I can feel the subtle micro-climates as I walk across our property. The air (no kidding) feels thinner and cooler by the water. Heavy, and thick up high.
No one has to tell me if there are tea olives planted nearby, or when night blooming flowers release their scents. There is also a briny, “fishy” smell that wafts in when tide overtakes our spring water.
Have you recently looked at azalea blossoms close-up? Some look so papery thin they are almost translucent. Others have freckles. Yet others are thick, almost leathery textured, with ruffled edges. Who knew … right?
I can SEE, HEAR, FEEL, SMELL and TOUCH, but what I discovered I can’t particularly do is TALK about my experiences. I cannot seem to fully (beautifully) communicate about them. It is like having all the ingredients available to bake a cake, yet lacking the heat to rise it.
I determined I lack an expansive “feel good” vocabulary.
If you are like me, I tend to stick to “default happy” words without really thinking about them. I say “COOL” or “Neat-o” (“far-out” and “outta sight” are extremely “old school.”) when I find something good and interesting.
The blog post mentioned above, “You are Here …,” is one of my favorite posts because I was given permission to use photos from local, professional photographers. The images of docked shrimping boats at sunset, live oak trees dripping with moss, beaches of discarded oyster shells are just … too gorgeous. (another “stand-by” phrase)
But describing the photographs and river scenes as “gorgeous,” “serene,” “mysterious,” etc. paint a flat picture of the kayaking experience as I “feel” it. Even the words feel “flat.”
In fact the same words could be used to describe any number of local bodies of water.
Worse? After ten years of trying to describe the “good feeling” of kayaking the Bon Secour River, the words become redundant.
Have you read this page? Find your Inner Huck Finn with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals
The page is filled with all kinds of pretty words to describe traveling the river by kayak. I wrote as if I was in a kayak taking the turns, describing what I see after each bend.
I tried my best to describe the “features” of the river — our beloved river — and offer compare/contrast information summarizing the “benefits” of choosing to kayak with BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals as described in the last paragraphs of this blog post under the headline: … “in a Nutshell (and not to overly brag) …”
It is difficult to gauge the impact of the words. Folks don’t normally arrive exclaiming “I READ your blog post and decided right then I would choose to kayak with y’all!” (which, without coming out and saying so, is the real reason why these blog posts are written — to get you, our potential future guest— to step out of your comfort zone, make a wild decision to come kayak with us, and to have you, and your family, leave here with a memorable imprint that you will be able to communicate with each other about for years to come!)
So I thought I’d try an alternate tack and throw some humor into the mix.
Aside from recalling the placid beauty of the calm, cool water, what many folks talk about (in their reviews) is the character — “River Rick.”
They marvel at his curiously curly, long, hair. They laugh at his funny expressions, are amazed he still maintains a youthful, bouncy jig in his walk and tilt their heads with puzzlement upon hearing the (made-up) words that flow from his mouth.
Words like “gommin.'” As in, Question: “Whatcha doin’ there feller? Answer: “Just gommin.”
Words no dictionaries harbor.
I discovered some new words that help me to increase my “happy vocabulary” that I also think describe River Rick, BeachnRiver Kayak Rentals and the Bon Secour River. If they evoke a “happy feeling,” in you, maybe they can give you a better understanding of what sets us apart from other local kayak rental choices.
“River Rick” and I are decidedly an “old school” mom and pop, who look forward to opening up our lives and property to allow guests who visit the Lower (Coastal) Alabama area, a peek into our unabashedly bucolic surroundings (rustic, simple life — opposite of orderly/pristine/highly-organized perfection). We are contentedly “cool” with losing time engrossed in effervescent conversations (that may throw off a well intended “schedule”) and are absolutely absorbed with trying to find ways to make your kayaking adventure memorable. It gives us great pleasure and we become completely enthralled when you, our valued guests, return from your kayaking excursion exuberant — beaming with ebullition.
I feel victorious to find so many new “happy feeling” words and was able to incorporate them into a blog post hoping to entice you to want to do the same.
Maybe communication is the real “Sixth Sense.” It certainly enriches the memories of our personal experiences and helps to cement images into our long-term memory bank.
… and that thought is wonderfully zestful!
p.s. River Rick and I would be all kinds of tickled to discover folks willing to write reviews expanding upon and including their own new and unique “happy feeling” words. Let’s start a movement! Vow to experience future adventures using all six of your senses seeking only “happy feeling” words to describe.