The word for the week is a bit too apt for me. I handed wrenches to my brother in the pouring rain while he fixed my car. Nice brother. Pat, pat, pat him on the head this week! But who wants to hear about car problems? The sun is actually shining for once today, and “soaked” seems like a bad dream. At least my water finds a way to Lake Erie and the Atlantic Ocean and doesn’t feed into the Mississippi flood.
I’m well familiar with variations on the “soaked” theme. It’s one of the things I learned to accept growing up next to a river. Falling through the ice, swimming, slipping on algae covered rocks, sliding down the rapids, falling out of a canoe… Ah yes, falling out of a canoe! There are lots of variations of falling out of canoes too, but at least most of those stories are funny. My river is too shallow to canoe most of the year, despite the fact that it’s actually the fastest flowing river in Ohio. I guess that’s the point, the water moves on so fast there’s nothing left to canoe in – except for the spring flood.
Spring floods can be devastating if your house is in the way, but thankfully I only shoveled mud out of our neighbors’ windows. Once the major chunks of ice melted on the river banks, the water remained high enough for people brave enough (stupid enough) to canoe it. There weren’t any surprises about where people would wipe out. My neighbors and I would take our lawn chairs to a lovely spot overlooking the rapids and wait for the next victims. It was a very pleasant time. People bundled up and sipped hot chocolate or coffee and laughed about the last round of idiots who got dunked.
Guy in kayak was probably going to get through. Single canoes were about a 50/50 proposition. Groups were sure entertainment because the odds of everyone in the group actually knowing what they were doing were very slim. I remember a group of 5 canoes all going down together, and you’ve got to remember, that water was ice cold. The neighbors placed bets whenever they saw a canoe come around the bend. I didn’t bet, but I did place my opinions with the others. Hey, you’ve also got to remember that there just isn’t very much to do in the spring thaw when you live in the sticks. Wet canoers were as good as we got!
We didn’t just laugh at the foolhardy. We fished them out and gave them something hot to drink. Somebody would take them home or drive them to their cars. We weren’t entirely cruel, but getting laughed at was the price of admission to our party.
My dad bet a couple of his buddies that they couldn’t canoe the river. Dad was right. Oh, I might’ve forgotten the part about where Dad bet them they couldn’t canoe the river buck naked at night? When 2 naked men showed up with icicles in their hair, my dad wouldn’t let them in because there were young girls in the house. Dad took clothes out to them before they could come in. Their dog was just fine. I think dogs may have more sense than men placing bets?
And just so you know that I don’t consider myself entirely superior to the icy, wet idiots in canoes, Dad and I canoed that same river many times in high water. Thrilling! Cold! Brainless! A friend told me years later that she and her dad bent a canoe in two when they got snagged by a water-soaked tree. That stopped my canoeing stupidity. Now I enjoy a gentle float on a warm summer day on a river meant for water travel -- with cooler full of snacks.
This art is a tiny acrylic painting, about the size of a business card.