Friday, February 08, 2008

On Lake Sylvan

On Lake Sylvan, the canoe laid tipped over, upside down, on the sea-weedy shore. We pushed & we pulled & we worked it until we saw an oar sticking out from underneath. Grabbing the oar, we tugged & we pulled until we finally had it out from under the trap of the canoe. We splashed & skimmed the water with it, ocassionaly scooping up some seaweed & slinging it skyward.
Laughing, giggling, summer-time fun.
Two tones echoed across the 12 acre lake.
My mothers' flat two-tone whistle. We climbed the bank, throwing the oar by the canoe & waved up at her. She hollered back....''Don't get in the water.'' She's told me a hundred times before. She can't swim. If something happens, she can't jump in and save me. There's water moccassins. There's alligators.
Sitting atop of the bank, I plop my foot up on the handle of the oar which is sticking up from it's spot between the embankment and the edge of the canoe. Tiny & I prattle on, like little girls do, about things like how planes are like fingernails scratching the dry surface of the sky. Wrapping my toes around the handle of the oar, I rock it back & forth with the tempo of our day...until it slips from under my toes. The oar has pushed the end of the canoe a couple of feet into the water.
Eyes go wide, mouths drop, then curl into grins.
We scurry down the embankment...and into the water. Once there, we discovered that we now had much better leverage to flip that canoe & flip it, we did! With our one oar & our collected 12 years of life experience, we headed out.
A turtle's head would bop up out of the water & we would head towards him. A fish would jump & we would head that-a-way. Finally, we chose the center of the lake as our destination & to the center we went.
We laid back, toe to toe. Talked again about planes scratching the sky. We wondered if rain was the sky finally crying from getting scratched everyday. We drifted & we drifted & finally we arose, sleepy headed, when we could hear a muted lapping of the water.
We had drifted to a far shore. A shore without houses. A shore filled solid with seaweed. We took the oar and stabbed down into the thick, magical, green slime. It was deep, real deep. So deep & thick of it, we hadn't the strength to pull the oar up with the load we had spun. We looked at each other & Tiny's eyes began to swell.
I let the seaweed sliiiiide back off of the oar...."it's just seaweed''
''It's all around us.''
''It's ok''
Then she stood.
''Don't rock the boat."
She belted out in tears & her whole body shook.
I thrust the oar into the seaweed and started stroking as quickly as I could through the thick & resistant seaweed.
She was full-throttle crying now, shaking, pointing.....''There's owl-leg-aters!"
I froze.
Bubbles in the seaweed, for an instant, did indeed look like alligator eyes looking back up at us.
''It's seaweed. We're almost back to the water. Just a few more feet.''
And in just a few more feet, everything changed.
Tiny jumped out of that canoe, tipping it & tossing me.
With seaweed in our hair, we struggled for a moment....tried to salvage the canoe, but it was as if our paddling caused it to travel deeper into the seaweed.
We had to swim. Clear across that lake.
Loosing my breath, arms and legs going numb, spitting water, shifting from swimming to floating & back again...I wondered if we would make it.

The summer before I turned seven, I had learned the importance of Sink or Swim
and I have been swimming ever since.

*current pic of Lake Sylvan compliments of WWW

18 comments:

singleton said...

Yeah, baby, you've been swimming ever since.....with mermaid fins, and combat boots....
And the very water that almost gobbled you up with it's rheumy green eyes,
is the water that calls your name now.....
the beast, tamed, now the most loyal friend....
"Take me to the river......"....
"Down by the Seaside.....".....
ILYSVVM.....
And remember, sometimes, we have to just float.....

skinnylittleblonde said...

SisterLove...426 IS Aloma Ave(I looked it up) & our house would be about where all the fine print on map is....lol, also right where the water is the darkest now.

Where we lost the canoe would be in the upper midwest corner of the lake & we swam to the 'Doctors' backyard(to avoid Mom) which would be in the nook of Roundelay Lane (lower left hand corner) Who knew that lake was 12 acres!?!

Yep, there I learned to float like a lily pad, swim like a fish & skim like a dragonfly... whatever it takes to make each moment meet the next.

WILSONART said...

OHMIGOSH!!!
My one and only huge fear. Water.
I think I could have better fought the owlegaters!
You didn't say,,,but I'm sure the other half of your 12 years of experience made it to shore too??

Scarey! However,,,,,it obviously instilled confidence in your ability to conquer life's other 'sink or swim' moments!
Priceless.

Did your Mother ever know?

~Babs

Shimmerrings said...

Yikes! I'll bet your mom was fit to be tied. Yep, sometimes ya gotta sink or swim... or float or skim... or paddle, lol. Don't ya hate it when you're trying to remain calm and the person with you is flipping out...that was a good one, and you did good.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Babs~ Thank Goodness Tiny made it too! We laid of on that shore for a good spell just to catch our breath & no, Mother never found out what all we did & went through, although we did tell her we made 'seaweed pie'. My poor Mother always had soooo many things on her burners to tend, if she only knew a fourth of the stuff we did she would have had a stroke. It wasn't uncommon for me to be off & gone for twelve hours at a time when we lived there.
Finally dear babs, I don't know that instilled confidence... but I did learn that sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Shimmerings...lol, really, she never knew! A day or so later, I can recall my sister pointing out that the canoe had drifted to the other side of the lake & I said ... nothing! Tiny was younger than me, so I felt partly responsible for her, but yes, I can remember when she jumped & everything got tossed, including me...I was mad. Luckily that anger passed quickly.

Shimmerrings said...

Can you imagine, in this day and age, any kid being gone for that length of time? The days of our youth were so innocent... and the world has changed... *sigh*...

skinnylittleblonde said...

Shimmerings...yep, it has changed indeed. I'd like to think that there are safe places, but reality tells me otherwise. Just the other day while out walking one of my dogs, I had a red pick-up truck pull over, try to block my path & a guy jump out...'hey babe...wanna party?' Ugh...I thought of that poor Emory girl & scooped up my dog, let out a few profanities & scurried away with a paranoid eye on my back. Times have changed indeed.

Slip said...

Note to self: Do not stand up in a canoe.

Shimmerrings said...

Oh, cripes!

karma lennon said...

Wow. Scary! I hate canoes-they always terrified me at summer camp! Plus, I can't really swim very well...Good moral to the story though!

skinnylittleblonde said...

Slip...lol, note to myself...'never get in a canoe with someone named Slip'

Shimmerings...lol!

Karma~ I love canoes. They are peaceful & accommodating. They allow you excellent control & direction over the water. They also can take you places that foot, nor motorboat, can take you. Plus they require no gasoline & can be tossed atop just about any vehicle. I think it was fear which ultimately led to that canoe getting tipped. If you are wearing a safety vest & ride with comfort ...you'll not need to ever even swim if you don't want to, in a canoe.

Orhan Kahn said...

Even at that age you're a great deal braver than I ever was.

We wondered if rain was the sky finally crying from getting scratched everyday.

Simply beautiful :)

Mel said...

*happy sigh*
River swimmin', canoe paddlin', watchin' turtles and fishies (no aligators.....'cept for those big ol' branches we were convinced COULD be..)toes in the water, stick drawings on the sand..... What a great life!

piktor said...

Skinny, Went to Cruel Virgin's and got an idea for a "smart" cat to sell: Muffin for Vice President

skinnylittleblonde said...

Orhan....lol, bravery had nothing to do with it. Fear,in fact, was the motivating factor. Kids... even you & I,as kids were so pure in thought.

Mel...lol, how those 'boring' days turn out to be the best! Did you know alligator eyes glow green in the dark?

piktor...lol, love your artwork but as wonderful as it is, it will not swoon my vote for Enemy's cat. My vote has already been cast... I am a dog girl! ;)

david mcmahon said...

You grabbed my attention from the first sentences and kept me going all the way through ...

owl-leg-aters

Now THAT is priceless!!

skinnylittleblonde said...

Aha David...it has been a long time! You are from Down under & I have been down-under ;) Good to see you & I am glad you enjoyed my childhood tale!

daryl e said...

Wonderful .. you need to go see the wonderful organizers of WAR child .. this belongs in their e-book! For sure!