Mid-day Paddle

Essential equipment: tandem kayak, paddles, sunscreen, bug spray, PFGs, H2O, and brewskis.

Optional luxuries: favorite conversationalist, koozie, and cheddar cheese & peanut butter crackers.

It was the perfect day to paddle around Weedon Island Preserve. We had overcast skies and a sprinkling of rain. It was humid,  but not too hot outside. If you’re not from around here though, don’t let the clouds fool you – the UV index is still high. Meaning: you can tan without the sun, but you can get burned too. I, of course, applied SPF before leaving the house and took my chances on catching a few rays.

With little help from me, Henry washed down the kayak and got us ready to launch. It took about two hours to make a leisurely 4-mile voyage around the park’s untouched archipelago, through the tunneling canopies of the mangroves, and across the open water of Tampa Bay.

We encountered a variety of wildlife along the way, including mullets (who always make me smile when I see the whites of their bellies as they jump out of the water), thousands of spider crabs (that just cracked me up because they were so curiously strange), and a mama dolphin feeding with her baby (šŸ¬šŸ˜»). We also spotted a lone flamingo flying overhead, which was pretty cool because I’ve never seen one take flight – let alone in the wild! The best thing, though, was finding a moment of complete silence. Despite all of the activity happening beneath the water’s surface, it was as if nature wanted to show us her best quality – tranquility.

During the summer rainy season, our mid-days and evenings are typically characterized by quick-moving, scattered thunderstorms. I was nervous about this when we agreed to meet at noon, but thankfully, God was in the rain today – just as I believe He is every day.

We had nearly a mile of our adventure left when it began. The winds picked up and the sky grew dark. Then, came a gradual downpour of heavy droplets and side-ways rain. All I could do was laugh. It was thrilling to be on the water, soaking wet, fighting to stay on course. We ultimately decided to let the ripping current take us into a little cove.  We ducked off under some mangroves and happened upon Yuengling Island – a safe haven of mangroves and abandoned beer cans decorating their branches. I guess one man’s trash really can be another’s treasure *šŸ™„*.  Nonetheless, we used the time to refresh and to rehydrate šŸ».

The storm only took about ten minutes to pass, and we really lucked out by having an unusual afternoon weather pattern. Without any lightning or thunder – it was simply a perfect summer shower. Although I was expecting the rain, I was caught off guard by the feeling it stirred in me – a desire to be kissed (in a way that only  Captain Rhett Butler could describe).  I couldn’t turn to face Henry for fear that he would read the emotions and know my soul. Thanks to the logistics of his tandem kayak, my secret is safe (until he reads this). I regret few things in life, but I hope to be taken by that kind of passion again sometime – preferably without the looming danger of oyster beds beneath our feet šŸ¤¦šŸ½ā€ā™€ļø #shouldacouldawoulda

Everything from today served as a gentle reminder to appreciate”wildlife” and to embrace my “wild life.” So, this goes out to you – or at least just me – the self-disciplined women who can’t help but still run free….

“to the girls with with messy hair and thirsty hearts.” – Jodi Lynn Anderson

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