Oct 7 2009

My first float trip

When I was seven and my brother was four we went with my Dad and his friend Roy on a float trip. I don’t remember the river, but I do remember a lot of things about the trip.

One thing was at one point in the river, over to the side, there was this circle where the water was literally blue. My Dad said it went a hundred feet down. I have since found in a book of Missouri Folklore that the spring, called Blue Spring (not to be confused with Blue Springs, Missouri), was created when an Indian maiden jumped into the water and drowned herself.

Some time later someone said, “Hey! Look at that! There’s a skeleton on that branch!” I looked up, anxious to see a human skeleton dangling from a rope in the tree–maybe a pirate or a cowboy that was hanged. I was disappointed to see that it turned out to be a huge frog skeleton in the water. It was intact, despite the lack of any flesh at all, and it appeared to be biting on a submerged branch.

The last event of the trip was when we were in the home stretch of the float, a wide slow-moving section of water, that Dad decided to be funny. He was an excellent swimmer, unafraid of any body of water, no matter how snake-infested. I was never a good swimmer.

Dad starting rocking the boat, acting like he was going to tip it over. My brother and I held on, trying not to be thrown overboard. I was terrified; Dad was highly amused.

Once he had finished having fun trying to drown us, he realized that he had inadvertently knocked his steel-toed boots overboard and they had sunk to the bottom of the river. It was good for him that he was such a good swimmer, as he had to dive down and retrieve them.

And then I was highly amused.

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Jan 27 2009


Though I have repeatedly told my kids that there is no such thing as luck, my youngest daughter will still occasionally either make or give me something to take with me “for luck.”

The current item, which I have carried with me now for two winters, is a buckeye. I used to wear a bead bracelet she made me, but it frequently got in my way while working.

I bring this up so I can tell you the following story:

A couple of years ago I went on a float trip with some of the men in our church. While I am not a strong swimmer [read: I am desperately hydrophobic],  I still enjoy boating on bodies of water I can see the bottom of.

I was in a canoe with Tim, an ex-Marine (though some contend there is no such thing as an “ex” Marine). The pastor and Forrest were in another canoe, and Bruce and his son Travis were in a third canoe.

This is the way I remember what happened: the Pastor fired an opening salvo, saying something about how they were in the lead because they were the Navy, and how we were trailing because we were the Marines. So Tim and I kicked in the afterburners and blew past the S.S. Pastor.

While we were still speeding ahead, we came to a partially submerged stump, almost in the exact center of the river. I was in the bow, and I had to make a snap decision: left or right. I chose left, the opposite of right. You know what else is the opposite of right?

We were slightly right of the stump when I guided us left, and then I found that the heretofore lazy river was moving quite swiftly at this point. I found it out because the current pushed the canoe immediately sideways, and I was thrown immediately overboard.

I have already mentioned that I am not a strong swimmer. It was a blazing hot day, and, like an idiot, I wasn’t wearing my lifejacket.

I managed to control my phobia keep my presence of mind and swim upwards with my hands above my head to keep me from banging it on the bottom of the canoe, which I then climbed into.

So, in the end, wasn’t it a lucky bracelet?

No. No, it wasn’t.

There is no such thing as luck.

But I still keep the bracelet.

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