Archive for the ‘lifestyle’ Category

Making a Paddle – Twice Warmed

January 18, 2018
Bent shaft cedar SUP paddles

I grew up in a house heated with wood. Usually, in the summer, my brother and I spent beaucoup time out at the wood pile, sweating away, cutting long logs into short sticks and then splitting those sticks and THEN stacking those split pieces. I don’t recall too many late nights during my teenage summers, we were too tired from the advance planning for wood heat. Whenever we did this ‘wood working’, it was the ‘first-warmed’ episode. A crackling wood stove down in our basement during the cold Duluth winters of the 1970-80s was the pleasant ‘second-warmed’. We were truly twice warmed, with one of those times being sweaty and full of mosquitoes.

Making a paddle is like that, minus the Cro-magnon physical labor aspect that wood heat requires. There’s a good bit less mosquitoes involved, too. Spend time in your garage making the paddle. That’s the ‘first warmed’. Getting that piece of wood out on the water becomes the (hopefully) ongoing and repetitive ‘second-warmed’. Hopefully, there’s only a few mosquitoes around for your version of ‘second-warmed’.

I still have the first paddle I made and I still derive a good deal of pleasure whenever I opt to use it. It still works. It still feels good and I am still twice warmed.

My paddles have evolved over the years as I have improved in my craft and explored other materials and styles. The first one was not the only one, rather it was like dipping my toe in the lake and finding it to be a pleasant temperature. My shop is full of paddles now, and full of wood waiting to become kits and custom paddles.

I hope you’ll consider the double pleasures of making a paddle. It’s just like wood heat, but without the hard labor. You’ll be ‘twice-warmed’ in the best of ways !!

Advertisements

Holiday Classic revised

December 20, 2016

wavetrainsup-holiday-greetingTwas the night before freezeup and all through the land
not a paddler was stirring – not even a kayaker
the paddles were stored in their cases with care
in the hopes that open water soon would be there
the children were nestled all snug behind the counter
while visions of paddling danced in their heads
with ma making dough and I behind the camera
we’d just settled down for a long night of cookie making
when out in the shop there arose such a clatter
I sprang from the kitchen to see what was the matter –
Away to the triple pane I flew like an overprotective father,
Tore open the insulating plastic screen and threw up the sash.
the moon on the edge of the newly cut cedar,
gave some lustre to the varnish on the paddles in the rack
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature paddleboard and eight tiny yoginis,
With a little old instructor so sunburnt and extroverted,
I knew in a moment s/he must be the saint of enjoying the water.
More rapid than downwinders his paddlers they stroked,
And s/he hollered and encouraged and hoped they all knew how to swim
“Now, Grom! now, newbie! now whitewater kitten!
On, rookie! on, funseeker! Wear your cold water mitten!
To the top of the wavetrain! to the top of the drop!
Now jstroke now jstroke now feather it all!”

– and that’s about it for my feeble rhyming abilities. Three daughters are home now. Two of them were the ‘models’ for paddles this summer. The oldest was off playing college soccer. They’re hunting for hidden presents, eating cookies for breakfast, and already getting bored. A true winter time family fest.

I hope each of you are finding joy in its many different forms here at the end of the year!

Sunset paddling in magic light

November 7, 2016

sunset paddling on the yahara river We decided to take advantage of the last night before Daylight Savings Time ends and it starts getting dark after lunch here in northern flyover country 🙂 We loaded and scurried and arrived at the newly redone haunted old Dyreson Bridge with the sun still in the sky. Just barely. For once, there were others on my favorite stretch of the Yahara, in fact there were even kids playing on one of the docks that has stood empty and forlorn for years. I guess we all knew that days are getting short and fun near the water is drawing to a close.

Magic light descended on us within minutes of getting on the water. The marsh grass lit up in a golden hue, my old beat up kaholo even looked good. My wife’s skin and hair glowed just right. The colors in the paddle blade emerged.  Magic evening light is really hard to beat. Every time I am able to immerse in it, good things happen. It’s even better when I throw in my good camera at the last minute.

Best of all though, were the reflections. The wind calmed, leaving glassy water and silence. btw, this stretch of water has enough current that geese tend not to like it, so the quiet was even deeper. Everything offered a perfect reflection, the grass, the trees, the people. It’s a beautiful thing.

Magic light. Quiet water. Perfect paddle.

Taking Time to Enjoy the Water. Simple.

September 20, 2016

happy-ghost-paddle-blog

Out on the edge of the continent, in that tiny little 100 yard strip of water in the surf zone there’s usually plenty of action with paddles and sup, etc. It’s easy to assume that because we see so much of that little tiny 100 yard strip that everything in SUP must be like that. Young blond women in bikinis, paddling hard to catch the wave while looking good for the front side camera.

It just ain’t so.

Young blond women, like my daughter here, can sit down on a paddleboard and simply look at nature and listen to the birds and sometimes even the silence. No front side camera. No furious paddling to catch the wave. No Beach Boys playing in the background about the eternal party ongoing in the 100 yard strip of trend setting Americana.

Someday I’ll do the math, but I’m sure the number is staggering. Inland water, flyover water, fresh, flat water like this stretch of the Yahara is the staggering majority of paddling water. I’ll bet 99.995% of paddling water is like this and excludes the surf zone. It’s not all about the frenzy of the surf zone. It trends followed the numbers, it would be about flyover water in all its simple and many beauties. Yet somehow, the gnat on the tail of the dog, wags the dog. That silly little surf zone makes the market so to speak, while we here in flyover country happily enjoy the silence and simplicity of good paddling water.

North Americans are blessed with an abundance of beautiful simple water to get out and immerse in. Feel the silence. Listen to the little waves hit the bottom of the board.

Flyover water rocks. I love it.

Summer Day on Flyover Water

September 13, 2016

flyover-yahara-flyover-pine

It’s gorgeous this time of year. At least to my eyes, the light is starting to seem a bit different as we approach the autumnal equinox (9/22 this year btw). Trivia question for the day – what is an equinox? Bonus point for difference between equinox and solstice. I offer no answer, save to write that relief for this burning unanswered trivia is but one easy Google search away.

Anyway, it’s gorgeous out. The geese are just starting to fly overhead and we just had our first ground fog morning. No color yet, but it is coming soon! Our middle daughter and I managed to make it out for a paddle before she left for college. Wish there had been time for more. Oh well. I’m guessing when you want to see your kids more and not less it must mean you are getting old?

It was a perfect day for simple flyover country water – For those of you near Madison, WI., the stretch of the Yahara river between Lake Kegonsa and Mud Lake is superb simple wild water, just a stone’s throw from an urban area. Easy access at multiple points and you hardly ever see other paddlers.

My own youthful years had a fair amount of wild water out on the Salmon and other western rivers. Even with a brain full of those cherished memories, I find myself hugely enjoying the simple act of paddling flyover water like this. Stunning. Gorgeous. Simple.

SUP in a lake, simple paddleboarding

January 18, 2016


It’s been awhile since I surveyed the “industry” that wavetrainSUP seems to be in. In this case, I searched Twitter for the keyword “paddleboard”. Wow. Either wavetrainSUP is an outlier or…I don’t know.

I found nothing about the simple pleasure of paddleboarding. It’s not all surfing and racing after all. There’s plenty of space for getting out on a nice summer day. Of course it’s winter now, so the above shot reminds me of what is coming in just a few months I hope.

So here’s the thing – my background is all freshwater and simple pleasures, like paddling one of the many lakes here in Wisconsin. Usually that paddling includes a paddleboard I built myself and a paddle I made myself as well. Some fishing, lots of picture taking, sometimes I even take our little dog along on the paddle.

I almost always have the water to myself. It’s quiet, there’s lots of birds, and looking down into the water is kind of mesmerizing.