20200224 IMG Tax Refund 2.JPG

Several years ago, the Bank of the Federal Government issued back our $1,500 of tax money after using it for a year. Dough like that is an enticing morsel in a farmer’s hand. But what would we spend it on? Hmmmm.

Thank goodness my wife and I were in the first phases of learning about holistic management decision-making when we got the check. Should we invest it, pay down debt or buy something that will enhance our life? The goal of spending more time together shaped our final decision.  Two new 12’ kayaks, plus all the gear (complete with wine glasses, collapsible coolers and life-vest for our pup, Riley), fit this bill to our freedom off the farm.

I must agree with Oklahoma kayaker, Thomas P. Jones, who said, “The two best reasons to buy a kayak are the sunsets and sunrises.”  

These 42-pound wonders of molded plastic are lightweight to haul, easy to launch, go just about anywhere and are not regulated by the state (yet). Some may wonder, why not buy one tandem kayak. There’s some unofficial statistic, according to my uncle Barry that marriages tend to last longer with two kayaks in the family. A stubborn farmer and headstrong wife didn’t need to test the hypothesis.

Sundays and vacations seem to be our best opportunity to go paddling together. New York State and Pennsylvania have fabulous waterways to discover. We’ve enjoyed the Nile Mile Swamp trek north, the reservoirs of Madison County, the Chenango, Susquehanna and Mohawk Rivers. We’ve even been bumped by huge schools of carp in the Erie Canal system and paddled alongside Animal Planet star Jeff Corwin.

We’ve eaten lunch and sipped vino overlooking remote waterfalls or on rock outcroppings, abandoned docks, tiny islands and sandy beaches. We’ve seen and taken pictures of fish, amphibians, muskrats, beavers, mink, deer, ducks, geese, loons, flowering water plants and friendly people.  On the downside, we’ve also seen pollution, neglect and incredible soil loss in our travels. The water I’ve paddled, like the land I’ve walked, always tells a bigger story of how society is acting.

I remember fishing with my Grandpa Steele on a lazy Sunday and feeling rather comatose after the trip. I guess that’s what it means to be truly relaxed from some time off.  I feel the same vibe when we take a kayak excursion. It also allows my mind to wander and senses to take in the simple pleasures of our environment. I think if everyone had this downtime to recharge your spiritual batteries, life would be better.

I have said spending this money on kayaks where you can get some exercise, time together and build a portfolio of memories was one of our best investments. 

So, the next time you find a tax refund in your hand, consider a kayak or canoe instead of a new couch, TV or patio set. Our region’s beautiful waters await your participation.

“There is no rushing a river. When you go there, you go at the pace of the water and that pace ties you into a flow that is older than life on this planet. Acceptance of that pace, even for a day, changes us, reminds us of other rhythms beyond the sound of our own heartbeats.”— Jeff Rennicke.


The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely.  You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.