Saturday, August 1, 2009

On Cayuga Lake, NY

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I unpack the inflatable 9 foot boat and start pumping the bellows. Once the barge is inflated I strap it to the top of the van, get Carol and Nicky and drive down to the lake. It’s a little cloudy with a slight offshore breeze but otherwise a great day to be on the water. I start rowing north, admiring the houses and cottages dotting the shoreline. This looked like a pretty good life, I think to myself. Most houses have a dock in front with some sort of vessel tied to it. Speedboats criss-cross our path, but I row on. No doubt many a pair of binoculars are trained on us as it's not often one sees a bright yellow dinghy plying the open water with a Pomeranian on the poop deck. Anyway, after about a half hour of rowing, it’s time to go over the side. There's nothing so refreshing as that first moment when the skin hits the water and the shock forces you to breathe fast and get the arms and legs moving. After a couple of laps around the boat, it’s Nicky's turn. Carol lowers her over the side and she immediately starts swimming toward me. Once she reaches me she clings to my shoulder and stays there. Not sure what goes through her mind, if anything, but I know she trusts us completely and never panics. After a few minutes I send her swimming back to Carol, who lifts her back onto the boat, where Nicky gives several vigorous head to tail shakes and lies back down again. Carol doesn't come in the water today, preferring to stay dry for this outing. Once we’re back on board, she gets out the Kybalion, an esoteric ancient Egyptian Hermetic treatise, and begins reading.

Whether it's Carol's voice or the weighty subject matter, I soon fall asleep. By the time I wake up the wind has blown us practically to the other side of the lake. This in itself is no big deal but the leak we discovered was cause for alarm. One of the inevitable outcomes of getting in and out of the boat is that water inevitably comes into the bottom with us. This time, however, I notice a trail of bubbles coming from a seam that is now under several inches of water. Starting back to our side of the lake, the boat seems sluggish. I know the offshore breeze has picked up but the rowing is more difficult than I've ever experienced. I inhale a Red Bull and start pulling for all I’m worth. I don’t think we'll go under, but there’s no way of knowing if this leak will get worse. The humiliating thought of having to be rescued or towed helps me keep my back into each stroke of the twin blades. I am more than relieved when I finally hear the scrunch of the boat’s bottom meeting the sandy beach. We have reached Terra Firma.

That night, after our harrowing day at sea, we enjoyed a good camp dinner and blazing fire, and gazed up into the night sky to further ponder the vagaries of life. After I went in to read in the bed, Carol stayed out to watch the last of the glowing embers and listen to Joni Mitchell on her ipod.

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