Unwinding on Lake Wingra

Swoosh… swoosh… silence.

Swoosh… swoosh… silence.

The air heavy with humidity and temperatures in the mid-80s, a slow, relaxed paddle fit the day and my mood.

Today was my first time kayaking on Lake Wingra, a small lake located inside the Madison city limits, the smallest of the five major lakes drained by the Yahara River in Dane County. With so many area waterways to explore, I decided no repeats this month.

I’ve already paddled the Yahara River, Lake Mendota, Lake Monona and Lake Waubesa, and next on my list is Lake Kegonsa between McFarland and Stoughton.

My husband, Greg, and friend Karen joined me on this hot July day. We paddled silently, listening to the cheerful banter of the birds in the trees and the far-off laughter and shouts of children playing on Vilas Beach and pals gliding across the water on paddle boards.

The lake was like glass, so still and peaceful, creating a stunning reflection of the cloudy skies and lakeshore trees.

Lake Wingra is bordered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum on the south and west sides. From the water, we watched runners, walkers and bikers make their way along the waterside path. We felt we’d made the better choice to spend the morning on the water.

Edgewood College and Henry Vilas Zoo are located on the lake’s north shore. I imagined being able to see zoo animals from my perch on my kayak, but that was not the case. Wingra Park is also positioned on the northside off Knickerbocker Street and Arbor Drive and is home to Wingra Boats, which was bustling with people looking for a way to cool off in kayaks and canoes and on stand-up paddle boards.

Several people simply rested on their boards, feet dangling in the water, faces to the sun. It was just that kind of a day.

A solo kayaker reclined in her boat, feet up, face protected by dark sunglasses, reading a book. “I don’t kayak for the exercise,” she commented with a smile as we passed by.

As we moved around the lake, we saw several ducks and gulls and a heron, and we watched small fish swimming in the clear water near our kayaks. I swear one wanted to try kayaking with me as it jumped out of the water next to my kayak!

We slowly lapped the lake and made our way back to shore. As I set down my paddle in the grass to help Karen ashore, a four-leaf clover caught my eye. It made me think about how lucky I am…

Lucky for a chance to kayak.

Lucky for my family.

Lucky for Karen, a good friend for the past decade.

Lucky for this beautiful summer day.

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