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Where we live: Perfect weather for kayaking

Summertime is full of trips to the beach, picnics, hiking in the woods, bicycle riding, kayaking and vacation trips. But just because fall is around the corner doesn’t mean you have to give up all of those activities.

Fall can be a fantastic time to walk in the woods, especially when the leaves crunch beneath your feet. I love stepping on crunchy leaves. I don’t know why the sound fills me with such joy, but it does. I actually had a friend ask me one time if I was deliberately stepping on the leaves as we walked down a sidewalk. I was, but I was trying to hide my obsession with the crunch.

Another fun activity in the fall is kayaking. Most people think of it as strictly a summer activity, but it really doesn’t have to be.

Last summer, I just didn’t find the time to go that often. Every time I thought about it, there was something that needed to be done around the house or the sun was blistering hot - not exactly my idea of fun. So my husband and I decided to go to a different lake every week in September and early October.

We watched the weather, always looking for a beautiful, warm, sunny day, which didn’t always fall on the weekend. When the weekend wasn’t going to work, we went during the week.

Since the crowds were gone, the water was calmer, sometimes so smooth the trees lining the banks and the clouds above reflected in it like a mirror. It was just gorgeous.

It was also fun to see the Earth change over those weeks. The trees started with green leaves, and little by little the color of the leaves changed, deepening into vibrant reds and golds.

The water started out warm beneath my bottom and that layer of plastic - my kayak. As the weeks grew into October, I could feel the chill of the water seeping through the plastic. As much as I hated to admit it, I knew that would be our last trip for the season.

As beautiful as the autumn is, cold water can be dangerous. You can slip into hypothermia quickly if you are in the water.

I’ve tipped a kayak on purpose during training on how to get in and out of a kayak while in the water. I’ve never tipped a kayak accidentally in the more than 20 years that I’ve been boating. For that reason, I felt comfortable with kayaking so late in the year. That said, my comfort level is mine. I can’t speak for anyone else.

If you think you would like to kayak in the fall, do so carefully. Stick to early September if you don’t have much experience kayaking. I also recommend going on a calm lake. I almost never kayak on a river, because I’m a scaredy-cat. I want to be able to control the water, not it control me. And always make sure you kayak with a buddy.

If you opt to stay on the shore, that’s perfectly fine, too. A picnic by the sparkling water sounds delightful.