Before I moved to Paris after college, I’d never really celebrated the first day of summer. Sure, I’m sure I was allowed to play outside a bit longer after dinner when I was younger, but in terms of deliberate celebrations, it just wasn’t done in Southern California. I’m guessing this was because there was less need to ring in the summer when the weather was summer-like most of the year.
In France, summer solstice is marked by the Fete de la Musique, where free live music can be found on street corners, parks, cafés and in various impromptu locations. The event is now celebrated internationally, but at the time it was unique to France. While the music varied in genre and quality, it was universal in its enthusiastic celebration. It didn’t have to be the longest day of the year, or the start of summer in the northern hemisphere, but that helped.
It’s been years since I’ve been to an official solstice party or fete, but I have tried to make the most of the longest day of the year in my own little way. The other evening a few friends and I took advantage of Kayak Tahoe’s solstice special, and tried stand up paddling for the first time. Also known as SUP, it’s become quite popular at Lake Tahoe and looked it would be pretty easy to learn. After all, I have paddled with the outrigger canoe club, so how much harder would it be than paddling in a seated position?
Alas, my paddling experience didn’t mean squat. With SUP, the learning curve is only enhanced when one goes out at the end of the day when the water is choppier, as it enhances the wobbly board feel and increases the odds one (meaning me) will fall into the water. Let’s just say that my first evening SUP was better described as KDP, kneel down paddling.
That said, much hilarity was had, and the Kayak Tahoe folks were helpful and generous with their information and time. I learned as much about the types of boards available as I did about technique (and my decided lack of it). Given my penchant for humiliation, it should come as no surprise that I’m looking forward to trying it again soon. Though I’ll be out on the water much earlier next time!