Summertime is water time

Michele Blais shares the joys of life on the waterfront in the Okanagan

Being on or near the water is for me one of summer’s greatest pleasures. Whether swimming, kayaking, floating, on a stand up paddle board or on a boat, it is always to me a wonderful experience. Well there is that one boating trip last summer that I could say was horrible but this story is about pleasure.

Our mother’s happy place was a lake — any lake, ocean, river where she could swim, watch waves and listen to water lapping against a shoreline was a great comfort and joy to her. I feel the same.

This has been our 13th summer at our cottage on Westside Road and the joy increases each year as we are able to spend more time enjoying the benefits of lake-side living.

The old dock has been replaced by a lovely floating one, more stable and larger which has space for two Muskoka chairs at the end to enjoy great conversations with my darling, read the paper or a good book or just enjoy the natural activities around us.

There are eagles that live across the lake in the same tree each year, plenty of ducks, Canada geese, a beaver that likes our floating dock, fish and other wildlife including the haunting sounds of coyote at night. The changing weather is also a great lake side activity whether with the wind, rain or waves it can be an enjoyable past time.

We have kayaks, a paddle board and a pontoon boat which glides easily over the waves and is like taking your living room for a cruise. Plenty of sitting space for friends and family, and for our black lab Indiana to move around the deck.

If you were to be in a helicopter or a small aircraft watching the lake on a busy weekend it would appear to be chaotic, or like pre-school children playing with toy cars. Driving every which way, narrowly missing each other, turning left or right when the desire strikes. With boats it seems there is no order yet there are safety codes of conduct and navigational rules that people do follow. Making it mandatory to get boating licences was smart.

What concerns me, though, is I see some bizarre behavior with people casually drooped over the sides or back of power boats going full speed, wake surfers and others without life jackets and I just wonder if sometimes people forget about the risk factors because their pleasure factors are in over drive.

I personally believe that the solar lights that now sprinkle the sides and ends of docks have kept people alive or uninjured as there are less evening crashes into docks, and better lighting on boats has really helped keep evening pleasure-seekers safe.

As with any motorized vehicle, accidents can happen quickly and I just hope that people out enjoying the lake remember that and take a bit of extra time and caution, put on a life jacket, move into the boat and stay safe. The way I see it, it is way better to tell the story of your summer than be the story.

Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 29 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.