I let myself off the hook for my 40-Day Write and Yoga Plan today, but I’ve been feeling vaguely guilty about it ever since I got home. Writers Write. Even when they’re tired, even when the day was busy, even when three dogs are demanding attention and wishing for walks. Writers write.

And so … today was a gorgeous day. I checked the weather this morning before hopping in the car and the report for Orange City gave a zero percent chance of rain. Zero. It amused me, because surely there is some teeny-tiny possibility of some freak weather system springing up out of nowhere?* But apparently, no, there is not and the weather people did not lie — the sun shone in a clear blue sky all morning long.

Orange City was the location for the kayak tour I impulsively signed up for last week. It was a winter manatee tour, and it was wonderful. My friend Lynda joined me, and we spent three hours or so with a small group of tourists and a very knowledgeable guide, paddling around the St. Johns river — the slowest river in the United States, I now know — including lots of bird sightings and a stop at the outside edge of the Blue Springs manatee reserve for some manatee sightings, too. We saw a wood stork, hawks, many ibises, great egrets, blue herons, anhingas, and some other birds I can’t remember. (Isn’t that always the way it is?)

A big alligator was so still it seemed potentially fake until we got so close that it splashed into the water and swam away. Poor guy, we ruined his sunbathing.

The manatees were mostly grey splotches under the water, with an occasional nose breaking through the surface, but at one point, we could watch the plant life being pulled down from a manatee munching on its roots. For some reason, that felt very mystical to me, but in an entertaining way. Like a metaphor for how something under the surface can affect what we see — interactions, reactions? — but in this case, it was a big, mellow, sea cow. It could have been scary, horror movie-ish — the leaves disappearing mysteriously, the hidden creature under the surface — but instead, it was this connection with nature that felt magical, like knowing something beyond what can be seen. I’m probably not making any sense. I’ll have to think more about it. But it was cool.

Also cool — the actual kayaking. I was asked if we wanted a tandem or single kayaks and even though I have never in my life been the sole person in a boat, I said ‘single’. It was terrific. The feeling of power when I started to figure out how to steer was so satisfying. It was very low-key, no real need to be strenuous about it, but I got into a really great rhythm a couple times, stretching my arms out in the push and pull and feeling very yoga-connected, breath and motion, working together. And then I’d splash myself or bump into another kayak and the moment would end, but even when I was just sort of bumping along, it was enjoyable.

St JOhns-Lyndaandme

Useful things I got out of it: the color of the forest right now is far more gray than I’d been writing it, mostly because of the Spanish moss. It’s still comparatively green (compared, say, to upstate New York at this time of year), but the shades are muted, tans and browns and amber, with splashes of deep green and sprinklings of light green, the light being new leaves just sprouting on the trees.

Kayakers paddle. They use paddles, not oars, and they use the word paddling. They also go kayaking, as opposed to rowing or boating or out on the water. They use tie-down straps, called sometimes tie-downs, to attach the kayak to the roof of a car. They use dry bags to keep their stuff safe and dry. That last is a nice one, because it’s the kind of question I wouldn’t even have known how to ask.

Great egrets have yellow beaks. Blue herons are white when they’re babies, but ibises are brown when they’re young. Ibises get anxious about red-tailed hawks flying by and when they’re anxious, they stay in the air. The easy-to-see birds (ie, the white ones) make quiet sounds, but the birds that can hide well have much louder calls, presumably because it’s harder for potential mates to see them in their well-camouflaged state.

Will I use all of that? Probably not. Grace could know a random fact or two about the birds, but I don’t really see her as a bird-watcher. But then I didn’t know she was a kayaker until that kayak mysteriously appeared on top of her car, so perhaps I’ll learn more as I write. And I’ll be well-prepared either way!

Ugh, just looked at the clock and it’s almost six. Where did my time go? Time to take care of dogs. But what a wonderful day it was. I am feeling so fortunate, so lucky, tonight. A sunny day outside on the water is good for the soul, I think. Mine is feeling refreshed and peaceful, and looking forward to a good writing day tomorrow.

*Ding, idea for a fun Tassamara power. Control of the weather. But I think it would have to be some sort of technology that someone had developed, because Tassamara, to date, has been all abilities that some people actually believe in, and I’m not sure anyone believes that someone else can control the weather. But still, it could be really cool. Weather change could happen via some sort of manipulation of energy, I suppose? Another idea to think about!