Attendance at my Sunday morning mass usually includes the following: three people, about four dogs, a pair of bald eagles, several blue herring, lots of turtles sunbathing on logs, raccoon, deer, and countless fish.
It’s been a weekly ritual for me the last several summers or, my saving grace.
2020 has been incredibly challenging. Not only have we all collectively been dealing with this pandemic, but I also just lost my father.
Having dealt with the loss of Kona last summer, and my mother a few years before, I know being on the water will continue to be one of my greatest sources of tranquility and healing.
Our Sunday morning paddles help level out some of my emotions, placed me back within the moment, and allowed me to reconnect with nature.
At 13, Riley simply can’t do a lot of hiking or walking anymore. But he still adores his time on the river. Together, we watch the wildlife, swim, fetch a few water toys, and take in all the river has to offer. When paddleboarding with Riley, we don't have to worry about how his hips will hold up.
SUPing also offers training grounds for my new puppies. Bodie, who is now 14 months, is just starting to calm down and relax on my Rival Playa paddleboard. I feel the trust and bond between us growing every time we go out.
At just 12 weeks old, Willow has finally gotten the vaccinations she needs to start getting out and enjoying our river too.
I cry and I smile when I’m out on the river with my dogs. I cry because I miss Kona so much, and I know she would have enjoyed being a big sister. But then I smile with gratitude knowing I still have some time with Riley, and he’s embracing his job as a teacher to Bodie and Willow.
Riley knows every single sandbar in the river. It’s a tradition for us to pull over, grab some toys, play, swim, and get muddy! Riley lights up at the sandbar. His puppy-like joy fills my heart with happiness, and I can’t help but focus on the moment, and let the stress and sadness of the past year fade away.
Week by week, things get easier. Every sand bar play session helps heal. Like the river with changing tides, my emotions ebb and flow.
One thing remains constant - there’s always water in the river, and my dogs and I will always be together on the water.
Blog written by Hala Ambassador Maria Schultz.