I paddled eastern Pennsylvania's Lake Nockamixon yesterday, in growing sunshine and a refreshing 6-knot W breeze. As usual, I worked the shoreline, checking out coves, looking at turtles, at leaping and swirling and spawning fish, dozens of great blue herons, green herons, water snakes, rock outcrops and cliffs, and the other denizens and attractions of the shoreline ecotone. And as I stroked along, I was conscious of the unique bliss of paddling a well-designed, easily-propelled craft on a fine day, in a fascinating environment.
After noting the day's outing in my trip log, my thoughts turned to that so-often-encountered bliss, and the sources of it. First, I decided that the act of paddling a good sea kayak, using a light, efficient paddle and an easy technique, itself generated kinesthetic euphoria--a pure joy derived from experiencing the motion itself; feeling the body smoothly wielding the paddle--a kind of dancing while sitting down.
Also a factor was/is the fascination of the shoreline ecotone. Humans evolved on the borders--between the forest and the savannah, between land and water, between the plain and the hills. We are creatures of the ecotone, and are delighted to be at the juncture between two (or more) different ecozones. There is also an artistic esthetic at work, an ability to see the beauty in the textured, ruffled (or glassy) surface of the body of water itself, and in its colors and those of the sky above it and reflected in it.
A third component is our unique ability, with part of our minds, to now and then observe ourselves enjoying to the full where we are and what we are doing--knowing that it's not just that we're having a wonderful experience, but that we know that we're having it, and can savor it and later relive it in memory.
I notice that people come and go in and out of sea kayaking, at least that is what club membership roles show, but, for me, after 30 years, it just keeps getting better and better.