It’s no secret to anyone who knows me: I love water—lakes, creeks, rivers, and oceans.

There is something about the smell in the air and the lilt you feel when you are on or in water that connects with me. Always has. In the summer when I was young, I could be found at the community swimming pool every day … every day. That is frowned upon when you get older and need to hold down a job, but these days when I can, I like to get out on a body of water in my kayak.

Having grown up in southwest Missouri, I am partial to the lakes there: Bull Shoals, Taneycomo, Table Rock. I’ve been on Table Rock countless times over the years, enjoying boating, waterskiing, and swimming. At certain times of the day—morning and evening, in particular—the water in remote coves looks like glass and gliding over it on skis feels a bit like flying, with the sky and clouds reflecting perfectly off the water below.

The first time my husband and I dropped our kayaks on Table Rock Lake, it was a crisp March morning near Ridgedale. My kayak is strictly for paddling and floating. Kayaking for me is about calmness, slowing down and enjoying the nature around me. While my husband enjoys that as well, his kayak is also outfitted to a T for fishing.

We launched out of Bent Hook Marina in the cove at Big Cedar Lodge. The cove was lined with trees still putting together their spring show. Rustic resort cabins peeked through the branches along the banks, and the water was still in the cool morning air. I was seeking turtles; my husband, of course, fish.

Just past the point at which the cove opens up, I tilted my kayak left and headed in a southerly direction. The water droplets dripping off of my oar beaded a little as they hit the surface before disappearing into the drink. I slid through the water across the next cove to a piece of shoreline that looked ripe with possibilities. Rocks and logs jutted up along the bank, and it looked like a good spot to find my quarry. There, on a dead log, several turtles were sunning themselves.

As I approached, I gave stealth my best effort and failed, but one particular turtle was unafraid of me. We had a chat; I did most of the talking. “Hey there,” I whispered as I crept closer to grab a couple of photos with my phone.

The turtle ignored me but posed quite nicely for the camera. We sat together for a time and enjoyed the quiet together, me in my kayak and him on his log. About the time we got comfortable, a crane launched itself out of a nearby tree and headed across the water. My new turtle friend disappeared into the lake. The crane returned a few minutes later and perched itself in a tree high enough for a perfect view of its surroundings.

I paddled around a point where I came upon a cluster of dead trees long-submerged under the water that came up when the White River was impounded by Table Rock Dam, built between 1954 and 1958. All that is visible of the trees now is the upper reaches of leafless limbs. This was not a spot for a motor boat to charge through, but my kayak and I had no problem navigating these waterlogged sentinels as I turned back toward the marina.

Stillness in the early morning coves is broken by lapping water along the lake’s edge and droplets falling from an oar. A crane uses a lofty perch, perhaps to look for its next meal.

My husband was not the only angler up early to cast a line into the water. Others in John boats and bass boats were speaking in hushed tones to their companions as I passed. They were trolling up and down the banks looking for bass, crappie, or catfish hiding under the next rock outcropping or submerged log. I hoped my presence did not disturb them.

On a cool morning, the lake isn’t as busy with boats flitting to and fro, so the return trip across the coves was serene. Sliding my kayak onto the beach area near the marina, I took a last look at the calm in the cove and stepped out onto the shore.