“Kayaks and a Family Memory,” Ensign, July 1985, 40
Our Friday evening with the children had been planned a week in advance. We had seen ads for a new “G” rated movie that we felt was interesting and appropriate. So it was set. We would see it as a family. When Friday arrived I bought a newspaper to check the theater schedule; to my dismay the movie had been changed! The film we wanted to see had played for barely a week and was gone.
The children were disappointed, and I resolved to find another good movie. After seven phone calls to neighboring towns, resolve turned to dissolve. There was not a film worth seeing within a thirty-mile radius. The children moaned, and I stared out the darkened window.
The night was mellow, but with just enough bite that one could feel the teeth of winter near. And there, shrouded in the October mist, was a beautiful harvest moon. “A perfect night for hide and seek in the kayaks,” I suggested.
The children responded enthusiastically, and we got our coats and life jackets and walked down to the old dock. My daughters, six-year-old Alison and three-year-old Leah, slipped into the snug and familiar seats of the double kayak with me. Joel, thirteen, and Jason, eight, took singles.
The moon rose higher above the earth’s shadowy horizon, its light made doubly eerie by motionless bands of clouds and the fine wisps of mist that rose from the dark lake. We floated in a dream world, fading in and out of each other’s vision. Joel struck out across the lake. The black night and the mist nibbled at him until he was gone. Little Leah shivered against me and snuggled deeper in my lap. I stopped my paddling and shushed Jason and Leah. Our senses strained against the night. The lamps from across the lake gave us shimmers of sight that might show us Joel’s stealthy silhouette. We waited and watched.
“There!” Alison shouted as she saw Joel’s shadow slip through a line of light. Paddles dipped and splashed. Jason laughed with delight as we raced to head Joel off, but he was gone. The night had defeated us. Excitement sharpened our eyesight; each slight of shadow made us tingle. We paddled hard down the lake, and our breath stayed like balloons behind us to mingle with the mist.
The younger children and I devised some stealth of our own to trap the “rascal” Joel. We paddled as quietly as we could to the shore’s edge; there we lurked behind some logs, wishing the moonlight away so Joel would not see us. We didn’t stand a chance. Between Alison’s giggles and Jason’s repeated whispers of “Where is he, where is he?” Joel’s kayak came cutting through the mist straight toward us. We hooted and cheered as we raced for home.
As we stood once again on the dock and looked over the lovely lake, I pulled my children close and thankfully rated our production “G” for GREAT. That night we were not mere observers before a large screen; we were participants. Our initial disappointment had turned to delight, and our simple fun became a cherished family memory.