Dear Mountain Mama,

I’ve recently started dating another kayaker. He’s always trying to carry my boat or load it on the car for me. While I realize he’s just trying to be nice, I don’t want him to think I can’t do these things for myself. I’m independent, and have been paddling fine without him for years. How do I tell him not to touch my boat without being rude?

Thanks,
Can-Do-It-Myself

Dear Can-Do-It-Myself,

Of course you’re more than capable of picking a kayak up and hoisting it onto the roof rack. You’re also fit enough to lug a forty plus pound boat on your shoulder. But just because you can do these things perfectly fine, doesn’t mean you should.

Sometimes the best gift we can give someone else is recognizing and accepting love. Some men bring their girlfriends chocolates or flowers. Other men kayak with their significant others and demonstrate their manliness by carrying heavy objects for them while pounding their chests, cavemen style. Can-Do, let this man who’s so eager to impress take your heavy load. And then thank him.

My good friend is a capable in the outdoors by all accounts. She shreds on a snowboard and knows her way down difficult rivers. She’s also an avid mountain biker and trail runner. The first time I paddled with her and her husband, I was surprised when we got to the take-out and she didn’t pop her spray skirt right away and hop out of her boat. Instead, she called, “Honey, princess pull please.”

She winked at me, as she asked, “Have you ever gotten a princess pull?”

When I said no, she told her husband to give me one too. He bent over and pulled my boat up the bank far enough that I didn’t have to get my feet wet. And then he bowed low, making a sweeping gesture with his hand. It made me giggle. I did indeed feel like a princess, the best kind possible, a paddling princess.

Can-Do, boat with this paddling hunk of yours. Feel free to surf better or take harder lines down rapids. But by all means, accept whatever love he offers you, whether it’s a special rock he found at the put-in, a snack he’s carried in his dry bag, or his willingness to carry your boat. All these are little love offerings are his way of showing you how strong and kind he is.

Yours,

Mountain Mama