This Book is Dedicated to:
The Lost, the Orphaned, the Abandoned, & the Adopted…
My Uncle, A tug boat, a large wave, a bad angle… and the cold water
That thing where you see the women of Viking villages send off their warriors , reminded me of the very early sunrise morning as Aunt Gerda watched as Uncle Harry and I left the shore of the island, to fish away. Typical confidence. Go out on the boat, hook the fish, expose yourselves to natures whim, and resurface on the beach you left from.
It was the tugboat that changed all that. It passed before us at a distance of 3/4 of a mile, just cruised and tugged as it should.
This morning was charged with a promise and more than a whisper of light, it had the blessing of our matron as well as all the selected visions suggested to ourselves by ourselves, as the moment to strike with that spear of decision was finally at hand. We were going fishing.
However, there was a wave heading in our general direction, that had in it’s own mind a similar point of view. A discussion that would not be mated by indecision.
The tug boat passed from our immediate horizon, it’s wake was undefined and certainly didn’t ring any door bells, but laid out a shadow.
Well that goes down like bricks. Yeah a small darkened shape develops wings and girth, you consider the source and distance, see a crest, recognize that the nose of the canoe is at 45 degrees, see what was once a little ripple, become a darkish green wall shimmering from a taste of foam, and try to casually mention to your uncle that you see IT, and wonder if the angle is bad.
Wave hits, canoe goes up, fails to crest the top, and is overturned. And we are spilled like pancake syrup from a pan. Slathered from the canoe’s edge in an awkward slow motion, slow enough for me to witness the disbelief on my uncle’s face, and then the horror of the incipient freeze, and the guaranteed breathlessness.
Gone was the tackle box, fishing rods, and my Uncle’s glasses. On was the freeze.
Overcome that and live.
Before I hit water, the restlessness in my life came to bear in the rescue that ensued. We survived.
It was a process of evaluation. He spilled, I followed and as I swirled down beneath the boat, it was clear that he would be stunned to breathlessness. I had already established for myself that I could swim from island to island, and though the nearest looked far, I was certain that I could land us their, Uncle in tow. My initial decision was to stay near the capsized canoe, but I was clear in my mind that the attempt to make it to land was only a step away. I had no doubt. And then a boat came. It saved my Uncle.
The next day was my 15th birthday, and I slipped into that semi adult venue at an abandoned island near ours. It was my first attempt to become fearless, sleeping alone on a seriously northern Canadian island, so close to the shore and the empty hulk of a cabin long ago abandoned by an insane murderous killer yet to be captured. (According to my Uncle).
Took it to myself, my fears, and the Aunt and Uncle by canoeing there solo the night before 15.
Managed to do the entire night with a hunting knife in my hand as I slept on a blowup mattress, went out at dawn the morning of, and caught 53 blue gill / slash / bass.
That afternoon the feast was ready, so many 2-3 pound bluegill, mingled with some pretty large perch all filleted, buttered, and fried up in flour and cornstarch with the trimmin’s. Quite the birthday.
So who was I anyway?