KEENE — A 40-degree windchill and 25 mph breezes did not deter eight members of the Dames of Wine and Chocolate from going full speed ahead on a recent kayak excursion.
For the past 15 years, the Dames, a loosely knit group of about 30 ladies, mostly in their 60s and 70s, have plied North Country ponds, lakes and rivers weekly from summer to fall. Since some are still employed and others spend time volunteering or caring for grandchildren, the average trek has from six to a dozen adventurous souls.
To add to their adventures, the Dames also rough it with a couple of three-day, two-night kayaking/camping excursions, in which the menu includes delicacies created with their namesake.
“Karen Glass (Keene Valley librarian) and I started the Dames many years ago,” said Linda Deyo, a retired science teacher. “We live in a beautiful area, and this was another way to see and appreciate it. It was just the two of us the first year or so, but gradually others started joining us. In an effort to prevent endless phone calls as the group got larger, we started coming up with an annual schedule, which originally included one two-night camping trip and now includes two.”
An appreciation of nature and the camaraderie are the principal reasons for Deyo’s participation.
“We all enjoy the leisurely scenic trips, viewing wildlife and flowers, a waterside picnic, swimming and the company of the group. We are definitely flat-water paddlers. The wine is just for the overnights; the chocolate is for each trip,” Deyo said. “Probably my most memorable experience was watching the interaction between a pair on loons with a baby and a bald eagle who wanted the little loon for breakfast on Hitchins Pond in the Bog River Flow area.”
The ladies want to live life to its fullest.