Music with Minnesotans: Mary Shideler

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
April 27, 2011
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St. Paul, Minn. — My first paddle of the year was with a new friend in Northern Minnesota.

It was beautiful that sunny March day, only slightly risky as we ventured into the very cold water still partially covered by a layer of ice. And it was the best of fun. We were like kids, pretending to be part of Shackleton's expedition, and avoid getting trapped and crushed by pack ice.

Mary Shideler is "The Kayak Lady" because, I imagine that's what everyone in Grand Rapids and environs started calling her after she took her custom-made light-weight wooden kayak into all 1007 lakes in Itasca County - every last one of them.

This would be a pretty huge achievement even if every lake had a boat launch and she could park her truck, "The Red Pony," nearby and just pop in - as we did.

But after she paddled the easy lakes, the quest for the rest was by muddy, mosquito-and-tick-infested trails through woods thick with brush and wind-fall, and sometimes across private property. At other times, the lakes just weren't located where they said they'd be according to the map.

It took Mary fifteen seasons, but she did it. And she says she grew up along the way - going from a soon-to-be-divorced woman to a strong, self-reliant, multi-dimensional person.

In her book about the journey "The Kayak Lady" she has a chapter that pokes fun at us DJ's - "For your listening pleasure..." But there she describe the power of music when she found something on the radio that was just the thing she needed at a particular moment.

Mary has long enjoyed classical music and the pieces on her playlist reflect the many moods of paddling - from serenity and contemplation, to turbulence and fear to sheer joy.

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Mary Shideler's playlist:

Camille Saint-Saens, The Swan - Alisa Weilerstein

Joaquin Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez - Sharon Isbin

Claude Debussy, Prelude to "The Afternoon of a Faun" - Charles Dutoit/Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Manuel de Falla, Ritual Fire Dance - Enrique Batiz/Mexico Philharmonic

Sergei Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf - Boston Pops - John Williams/Dudley Moore

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Check out more from Music with Minnesotans:

Linda Z. Andrews, Ann Bancroft, Charles Baxter, Philip Brunelle, Mayor Chris Coleman, Michael Pearce Donley, Joe Dowling, Dr. Victoria Elmer, Gwen Freed, Nancy Gibson, William Gurstelle, Karen Hansen, Steve Heitzeg, Stuart Loughridge, Allan Naplan, Stephen Paulus, Chris Polydoroff, Consie Powell, Lois Quam, Mayor RT Rybak, Nick Schneider, Ann Swenson, Steve Schon, The Reverend Spenser Simrell, Ann Swenson, Paul Thissen, Dale Warland, and Matt Wehling.

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Next time, if you've ever wanted to move with the music, you'll love visiting with Dancer James Sewell. He has long used classical music as a source for the dances he creates, and you'll never hear these pieces the same when he describes how the vibrations move him!

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