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Thursday, May 16, 2013


While finding myself in the temporary role of bachelor, I have been adapting well.

I have been leaving the seat up, throwing my used towels on the bed, and emitting biological sounds with abandon. Hmm... two new things out of three ain't bad.

I also realized there isn't a great deal of conversation with no one else around. The dog and the cat, while able to convey their thoughts, are not the most erudite of discussion partners. To frustrate matters all the more, their areas of interest are fairly narrow. I can only debate the merits of one cat litter brand over another just so many times.

So, I pointed the squared off nose of my Jeep up the hill to my daughter's home. There I was greeted by one and all, including the grand-dog; an off-the-wall German Short-haired Pointer who thinks he is part beaver. He demonstrates this conviction by reducing tree branches, quartered fire logs, and such to the approximate size of toothpicks with on-going regularity.

Our grandson is at the age he is making momentous discoveries. A recent one has been Di-hydrogen oxide; also known as “water”.

There is something about little boys and water. One is drawn to the other like iron to a magnet.

They just go together like peanut butter and jelly.

I watched as he turned on the outside spigot ( a recent accomplishment) to fill a small plastic bucket with chilly Lake Erie water. Then, in an attempt to cleanse himself of sand from his sandbox, he stepped into the bucket.

For those who are unaware; cold water can trigger a reaction in boys. He found himself being more wet than intended.

Dutifully, our daughter escorted him to the house, to emerge shortly in warm, dry attire. Within 5 minutes of his re appearance, the bucket was filled with water. However, a sense of pragmatism seized his little mind. This water was not for splashing or spilling; on no. He found a little plastic watering can which just barely slid into the bucket. He would fill the can, then dutifully set about watering every flower, shrub, tree, and blade of grass over 2.5” in height.

Genius, pure genius. He was achieving his goal of playing in water, getting soaked, and NO ONE COULD reprimand him! He was “helping” and being “a big boy”. Mom, Dad, Papa all smiled approvingly as he splashed, spilled, filled the bucket, got wet, etc. Not a word was said about “enough” or “you are soaked” or “stop doing that, you are only making mud.” It took me back to one of my early experiences with water.

My memory raced back over 5 decades ( or 2 score and 10 years ago, if I kept track like Lincoln did) to a fast flowing stream, swollen by spring rains. I grew up in Mayfield Village when it was a real village, and it was quite rural. We had several acres, and lived beside a large working farm. There was a lazy little creek which meandered through the pastures, bisecting our property into east and west portions, and continued upon its merry way to where I did not know. Probably the coast of China, or so it seemed to a small boy.

On this particular day, the usual benign brook had become a torrent, roiling along, carrying tree branches and flotsam from up-stream further down-stream.

The neighbor boy, Johnny, and I were transfixed at this display of Nature's power. Simultaneously, it occurred to us that racing sticks upon the current was the proper thing to do at the time. We dashed about the sodden meadow, gathering up bits of anything which would float in order to compete against one another.

Then, it happened.

One of the sticks had gotten lodged against a clump of meadow grass bent over by the water.

We attempted to free the impromptu vessel by tossing rocks at it. This resulted in lodging the stick deeper into the grass. There were two bridges over the stream; one about 100 yards up-stream behind Johnny's Grandpa's chicken-coop, the other about 75 yards down-stream under a grove of trees on our property. We determined each was a bridge too far.

After much debate, we decided whomever had the longer legs would have the honor of stretching their legs across the water, thereby kicking the stick free. How to determine whose limbs were longest?

Simple; we would sit beside one another, extend our legs, and voila the winner be thus declared.

I was raised a trusting soul. Growing up in the 1950's we all learned the merits of fair play, truth, justice and the American Way. Therefore, it never would have occurred to me (oh the naivete!) that Johnny would have scooted himself back about 3 inches, to create the illusion that my legs were longest. Three inches was a good choice, any thing more would have raised serious questions about why I didn't tower over him when walking side by side; any thing less would have opened up debate about thickness of boots, etc.

This was one contest I was not thrilled to have won. Reluctantly, I approached the creek bank. The original plan was for the one who was not kicking the stick to grasp onto the one taking all the chances. Somehow in the adaptation from theory to practicality; this minor detail was lost.

I lowered myself on the creek side, grasping the wet meadow grass as tight as 5 year old fingers can grasp. I stretched my flannel lined blue jean clad legs across the torrent. I knew I would soon feel Johnny's vise like grip on my shoulders. I kicked, hard. I felt the grass pulling loose. I saw my legs, followed rapidly by the rest of me, go under the water. What I didn't feel was Johnny's vise like grip on my shoulders.

Under the murky water I went. I grasped at any and everything. Freeing the stick had suddenly dropped down the list of priorities. Desperately, I grabbed a large clump of meadow grass. While pulling myself ashore, I made a mental note to never wear flannel lined blue jeans if intending to go in water. Finally, I felt Johnny's hands pulling me up the creek bank.

Keeping a tradition of males since Adam said “Guess we should have had the peach.” upon getting booted from Eden; I made a droll remark along the lines of “Well, gotta go change. See you in a couple minutes.”

Upon slogging to the house, and casually remarking to my mother the water is a bit cold for swimming, I made another discovery.
 Being Grounded.

My mother was far too wise to restrict me to the house; she was no fool. I was, however, restricted to an approximate 100 foot radius of the house. This didn't stop me from getting rammed by a ewe when I got between her and her lambs. It also didn't stop me from falling out of an apple tree I was attempting to climb while wearing cowboy boots. Nor did it prevent me from bestowing multiple handfuls of just picked wild violet blossoms from the other meadow upon my Mom. But, it did keep me out of the creek.

I was brought back to the present by the high pitched laugh of our grandson, and the frustrated shout of our granddaughter, his big sister.

I chuckled while surveying the water-logged flower beds, knowing it could be much more dramatic.

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