By now you might know about my penchant for rowing. Not the racing kind, but the slow, gliding across the lake, looking at the clouds kind of rowing. It makes my heart skip a beat just to know that I’ll be heave-hoing in just a few days.
I had a taste of it last weekend on a lake in Upstate NY when my friend, Robin, and I went searching for turtles. I got to row… And yes, we found a few of the little green reptiles – sunning themselves on lily pads and then cooling off in the murky water. We were mesmerized.
It seems that Europeans deemed August the month of R & R. As an American, I’ve always been envious of their practice of taking the whole month off to rest and rejuvenate. What’s wrong with our culture that we revere long hours of work without any play?
Of course the month in which we choose to rest is irrelevant. When I was a child we would take a one-week vacation in either July or August. Almost always we would pile into the station wagon and head up to a cottage on a lake in Northern Michigan. Up North, as we Michiganders like to say.
This was no summer home with expensive water toys. The six of us would cram into a little log cabin with barely any privacy. I don’t remember a kitchen – more like a single countertop where my mother managed to cook us meals and whip up Vernor’s floats that she would make with milk and sugar instead of ice cream.
Kuba Kaska Cottages were situated on tiny Crawford Lake near the town of Kalkaska. You won’t find any mention of them on Google. They were pretty unremarkable, but they were heaven to me.
If we wanted sunshine, we hung out in the front of the five tiny cabins where we played badminton, and if we wanted shade, we went out back by the lake. Each cottage had their own hammock attached to huge shade trees and a rowboat. The smell of pine trees wafted in the air.
If we wanted a treat we went over to the owner’s cottage where there was a counter filled with penny candy. And if we wanted blueberries we crossed the road and picked them ourselves.
I was terrified of swimming as a young child and the lake was mucky, but each morning I would wake up, run out back and turn the rowboat over to look for frogs. Then I would row (sometimes by my little self) across the mini-lake to the other side where turtles were always sunning themselves on the logs.
I could sit for hours watching these amazing creatures. My whole life seems to have been filled with turtles – in my dreams and in my waking state – and it all started at Kuba Kaska Cottages.
Even as crabby teens we would head out on that rowboat, acting like it wasn’t cool, but I was loving it anyway. I can’t believe I found this old photo of me with my sister, Sue, navigating the murky waters of Crawford Lake.
When I started to write this post I didn’t think I would be taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane. But I began to realize that so many of the things I love to do to relax – to rest and rejuvenate – were seeded in my childhood. Reading, laying in a hammock, rowing a boat, watching movies and being in Nature.
In the world of mind/body/spirit medicine, R & R is critical to our well being. We can’t possibly expect to maintain vibrant health if we don’t take a time out.
Ayurveda would give this advice regarding R & R and the doshas:
Vata – This is the dosha of depletion and anyone with a lot of Vata in their constitution needs a little R & R each day. Like a baby needs to nap each day, so Vata-types need to replenish the energy they so easily expend.
Pitta – Pitta is the hot dosha, in body, mind and spirit. They are insatiable learners and while their idea of a perfect vacation almost always includes a stack of books, sometimes mental rest is sorely needed. That’s not to say reading will unbalance them, just that it can create more stress if they never take a break from it.
R & R out of the heat of the day is ideal for Pitta-types. An early morning walk or swim, sitting under the stars, and walking in the moonlight are all very Pitta-pacifying forms of R & R.
Kapha – Kapha R & R should include the least amount of laying in a hammock taking naps during the day, I’m sorry to say!
Kapha-types can easily succumb to excess – excess weight, excess holding onto things, excess lethargy. Ideally their vacations should include lots of physical movement which will ultimately rejuvenate them and rev up their metabolism.
Please don’t take this to mean that a Vata-type should lay around all day, a Pitta-type should stop reading books and never see the light of day like a vampire, or a Kapha-type can’t ever nap on vacation! Everything in moderation is key and just try to think in terms of the opposite of what your dominant dosha tends towards to strive towards balance.
Vata – Slow down
Pitta – Cool down
Kapha – Keep moving
This article is in memory of my fun-loving mother, Bernadine Sinclair (aka Bernie) who, it appears, also loved to row.
Wishing you all a relaxing end of the summer. I will be back in September, hopefully rejuvenated with lots of information and stories to share with you here.