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Paddleboards on Keoka

By Robert Spencer, Over the Dam


A summer morning when a thin haze of gray fog fills the air just above Keoka’s surface. I sit on a large boulder at Schoolhouse Beach and peer across the sandy shallows at a group of five brave people standing on paddleboards. Two men and three women have paddled out far enough from shore so that their voices are barely audible. The splashing and bright colors of their bathing suits catch my spaniel’s attention. She bounds into the water barking with a mind to join the group, but I call her back. Let them be in peace, I say.


I can make out the sound of one paddler as she directs the others. They all move in unison, rising from the water and mounting their boards. First, they sit and then kneel with their hands on the flat hull in front of them. From a distance each looks like a cat, so much so that my Bessy barks again, rushing to the water’s edge. I call her back and watch as the cats arch their backs.


As golden sun burns through thinning fog, the kneelers raise both arms high above their heads as if saluting Old Sol. From the angle of my perch the sun appears to be centered between the open palms of one boarder’s hands. My heart beats faster for a moment and I close my eyes. They must be doing yoga on those boards. How brave. I’d be afraid of losing balance and falling into the water. Come to think of it, what would be wrong with that?


All at once the five stand up with legs spread at shoulder width. One waves arms side to side trying to reach a balance point. Another does fall but hops back up in an instant. As one they move arms up, then to the right side, and then the left. The boards rock back and forth with each movement, but they all stay stabilized on top. Bess and I are both very impressed with such vigorous movements. She barks again and I leave my seat to stand knee-deep in the cool water as its pulses brush the bottoms of my shorts. My arms move back and forth as I breathe deeply.


When the five figures lay down on their backs, I can hear the resonating sound of an “OMM” chant above the whisper of peaceful ripples on the sandy shore. Imagine how soothing it must be for them to be lying in a Savasana as they chant, the gentle rocking of the lake taking them into a sweet meditation. I return to shore, sit in the sand with only my feet in the water and close my eyes, chanting “OMM” in harmony with five humans, a wet spaniel, and all the natural elements which make up this Keoka experience.


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