Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Passing SUP, love and happiness on to our kids

Reflections of a stand up paddle board journey
By Linda Kent, communication manager, Southwest Region

As I listen to the flop-chop of water passing below my board I realize—this is happiness.

It’s my moment of Zen.

And I feel it every time I paddle out on Lake Tapps, standing atop Big Blue (aka my standup paddle board).

No two paddle outings are the same.

On summer days, I can smell the sunburn. The water’s smooth as glass. And I’m quietly happy.

More often, my fingers are so cold they burn, and I’m paddling hard into the wind to keep forward momentum. I’m still happy.

In a state of Zen, it’s easy to clear your mind and think. To ponder. To focus on what’s really important in life. I think about how I can preserve the things I love, the things that are important, and pass them on to my kids. Teaching them to paddle on the lake comes to mind, but it goes much deeper than that.

Protecting and preserving this little part of the earth that I connect with each and every chance I get—that’s the heart of it.

Be the change

There are hands-on things that I can teach my kids today. Ways we can be the change. Small things. Things that ultimately add up and make a big difference:
  • We can wash our car on the grass instead of in the driveway because this ensures less pollution reaches the lake.
  • We can choose not to drip and drive – fixing a leaky car means less oil and other automotive fluids wash into waterways (and it also saves money in the long run).
  • We can make sure boat gas goes in the tank, not the lake.
  • We can use weed killer and fertilizer in the right amounts – and at the right times. This not only helps protect fish and other critters, it lessens problems with algae.
  • We can scoop pet poop -- when it rains, dog poop melts away and runoff carries it to waterways, storm drains, ditches and streams. It’s nice to have clean shoes, too.

The big picture

Then there’s the bigger picture – plans crafted to protect water-dependent uses like paddling and boating, not to mention the lake’s water quality and integrity into the future (which, as I see it, ultimately also protects property values). These shoreline master programs are crafted by cities and counties at local level and then reviewed by Ecology.

I know my kids won’t be all that interested in the planning process, but the end goal will ultimately matter to them, because they will be able to enjoy the lake into the future.

These may seem like strange things to think about as I dip my paddle into the water, but they matter.

Balance matters too – and not just the kind that keeps me on my board.

There’s more to this modern world than the environment. Nurturing growth in the economy and our communities, protecting property values and supporting all of the other things that help provide the security and success important to families like mine are just as essential as protecting our water, earth and air.

So my thoughts turn to teaching my children this: In today’s world, we can have a healthy economy and a healthy environment.

Innovative partnerships and working together to find solutions – these are the things that help us catch waves.

It may not always be an easy journey. It can get choppy as concerns arise, and it may be difficult to achieve balance at times. 

But with the old “economy versus environment” thinking (so very 1980), we risk paddling into a wind that pushes us backward. We risk losing our balance.

How we pass it on

So I want them to learn that how we preserve our environment, the way we work to protect our livelihoods -- these things are just as important as what we seek to achieve. This is how we find sustainable results.

As I ply my paddle and watch water curl past the nose of Big Blue, I hope to pass much more to my children than a moment of SUP-love and happiness.

Earth…pass it on.

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