How a red canoe made me fall in love with nature

Admittedly not a nature lover, Astrid shares her tale of falling in love with the outdoors — the old-fashioned way.

A blonde woman canoeing in the lake in nature

Jump in a canoe to feel instant inner peace (Photo by Istock).

Let’s just put it right out there: historically, I’m not a nature lover. Camping? Ick — the thought of lying on dirt (albeit in a tent), using nature’s washroom, not showering and cooking out in the open is just not me, much to the apparent disappointment of the many friends in my life who’ve tried to lure me on camping trips.

“Come on…you haven’t really tried it — I bet you’ll like it when you try it again,” they press.

“Are you really sure you don’t like to camp,” some question.

Yup. Quite sure.

Even though, logically, I know the outdoors brings you happiness — many studies have shown that nature is one of the pathways to happiness — I truly just haven’t spent a lot of time out and about in nature.

Yet, as with so many things in my life in the past few years, things are changing. While you still can’t get me to camp, I’m more open to taking in the outdoors these days. Forget running on a treadmill, something I did for years — now, I’m more comfortable hitting the streets for a run. Better yet, make it a trail run through the woods or a treelined-city path.

And then at the end of summer, it really happened: my happiness was inspired by nature.

In late August, my family and good friends rented a five-bedroom cottage for a week around Haliburton, Ont. Cottaging is a gateway to happiness already, sure — the relaxed days, jumping into chilly lakes, cooking meals with friends and evening campfires. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But add to that a shocking (for me) and newfound love of canoeing.

This summer wasn’t my first time canoeing — I’ve flirted with it sporadically over the years. And maybe it was the calmness of Percy Lake that encouraged my love. Maybe it was that my husband and I canoed passed many undeveloped plots or small islands. Perhaps it was how quiet the whole experience was. All I know is, I couldn’t get enough of that canoe over my week there. The zen of breaking the water with the canoe and paddles, the thick trees and dark water as far as I could see — I was wandering around the cottage almost daily trying to find someone to pull on a life jacket and go out for a ride with me in that long red boat.

Now that I’m back to city life though where does this discovery leave me? After all, I’ve long-learned to tune out construction drones and cars honking — how do I tap into my new summer love?

The plan for now at least is pulling on my running shoes and heading for a nearby valley…

Have you ever fallen in love with a canoe or another new-found outdoor activity? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Get Chatelaine in your inbox!

Our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers. Delivered every weekday morning.