Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Does This Kayak Make Me Look Fat?

Ask your 13 year old that question sometime. When you camp you tend to eat bad food, really bad food. Even in Canada. The fact that people are speaking French all around you doesn’t change that either. It is very difficult to make any kind of sauce over a camp fire - at least this chef hasn’t learned that trick yet. So after days of sausages and granola, one tends to worry about the waistline. We have a guinea pig that gets fat eating lettuce and timothy hay, so I thought the concern over sausage and goodies from HENRIETTA'S PINE BAKERY (Dwight, ON) was legitimate.

Back in August at this very web log I recorded our top 10 paddler tips from our trip to Canada. Since then I've lost those pounds that I worried about. They probably weren't there in the first place but as a person who used to run 5 miles and butterfly the aquatic part of triathlons, I know better than to load up on junk. It was also one of the last times I fretted over such nonsense.

Last night we went to listen to Mikhail Gorbachev speak at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It was a weighty talk, while we’re on that topic. He described how disappointed he was in globalization and described that the world today needs a little perestroika. I agree. Some of us try to introduce the concept of new thinking for the new world to our kids. As homeschoolers, we’ve already demonstrated the concept of thinking outside the box - or new thinking for the new world - by not accepting mediocre schooling for our kids. But that’s as political as I’ll get here. There are other ways to introduce new thinking. How about taking your kid kayaking just when the leaves are changing colors in a place so rugged it’s just you and God and Elmer Fudd?

We went to Grayson Lake in Northeastern Kentucky two weekends ago. We wanted to go one last cool place before we put the kayaks away for the winter and this was the place we chose. Little did we know it was hunting season. Posted at the very spot we wanted to launch our boats was a sign that said “WARNING: Stay away from Clifty Creek South shore, across from the boat launch area between September 1 and October 1. Dove hunting in progress.” As it was October 8, we launched our boats and I introduced Daffy Duck’s Hunter song, you know the one: “hunters to the left of me, hunters to the right of me, bang, bang, bang.” Made for an interesting paddle for my student. I suppose I could have told him about the movie "Deliverance" and hummed that tune instead, but I was trying to think outside the box.

We sometimes “car-camp” because it adds variety to our travel. Lately we have been camping a lot because we like taking the kayaks with us. The kayaks permit us to explore places you would never otherwise see in some of these places. In some campgrounds we are just amazed at what we see. The campground at Grayson Lake was very interesting needless to say, especially as it was hunting season. Now I always thought hunters were the hearty types, but that shows how inside the box I was thinking. Hunters these days camp in luxury yachts, or “Hilton on Wheels” as my student describes it. Our entire camping experience is set up in under 10 minutes, including the tent and the campfire. And as we sat cooking our hot-dogs over an open fire, we watched these rugged hunters unfurl their awnings and put up their confederate flags, haul out the Barco loungers and set up the satellite dishes for the two day weekend. While all the activity was progressing, we were entertained by a simple example of homeschooler-out-of-the-box thinking. A small boy stopped by our campsite while he was waiting for his parents to set up their camp site. We offered him a hot-dog and between bites in the best Kentucky accent I have ever heard, he asked us if our RV was broken down. My student asked him why he thought that and he replied that “ain’t no one he ever knew that slept in a tent that little” My student replied “Kind of hard to stow an RV in a kayak”.

The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained and he only holds the key to his own secret.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

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