It's Always Been About Water by Relda Halbert
Story of the Month contest entry
It's always been about water.|
Water - theme of my life. Oldest playmate. Prized playground. Source of understanding. Muse and inspiration. Refuge and restoration. Sanity – established, maintained and regained.
Water - mysterious, clean, clear. Insistent siren.
Water - revelation of a holy God. Picture of His love. Liquid path to my Redeemer. Ordained teacher … lessons neither missed nor misconstrued. Mirror of sin. Metaphor of salvation. Baptistry. Portal and sustainer.
God made me a water baby. It was love at first sight.
My mother swears I learned to swim the day I learned to walk. She says I ran straight into the lake, fell face-down, then churned out a few feet. I came up on my own, giggling gleefully, and spewing water from my nose. She says I dog-paddled that day, and required help only to steer me away from deep water.
I can’t remember learning to swim, but I don't doubt my mother's version of events. I'm a natural. Just saying. She always kept a change of clothes handy, as, bathing suit or not, if there was water I was wet. And all it took was a mud puddle.
I am convinced I can float indefinitely - my body is uncannily buoyant. Floating requires no effort. I float even when holding my breath, which I can do for several minutes. I can float face-down, but in that position I do have to make an effort to keep my nose above water. I can float vertically like a barrel-cork, and my head stays up with no effort. I float whether awake or asleep. I once fell asleep long enough to be badly sunburned, and drifted several hundred yards in the process. I do fear dying of sun-stroke or starvation while floating.
I have no fear of water. I respect it without question, though I do break the rules and swim alone. My defense: there were times when water was my only companion.
Upon occasion and to some degree, I fear its creatures. When in fresh water, I keep a respectful distance from alligators and water moccasins. I find them much more dangerous on dry land. In salt water, I am cautious where I swim and give the odd shark and jelly-fish an infrequent, uneasy thought.
I admit I am more comfortable swimming when I can see a shoreline, however distant, but I’ve swum with no land in sight and no sense of panic.
The idea of being aboard a boat which has struck an object … of being injured and ejected to a death by drowning … is a troubling possible end... but no more than thoughts of any other form of demise.
When boating, I feel in need of the protection of a firearm … as much for defense from humans as animals. Some wilder rivers I’ve cruised had long, lonely stretches where anything might happen. I once spent a long, terrifying night staring down the barrel of a police revolver – it was held by a soon-to-be ex-fiancé, a policeman, experiencing a suicidal crisis. We both survived.
I’ve had my share of aquatic adventures, misadventures, and close calls.
I've been onboard as a boat sank and as a boat burned. I've been onboard during a freak tropical storm and while waves broke over the bow. I have run aground and been stranded. I’ve had motor trouble in the middle of nowhere. I’ve experienced near collisions and misplaced numerous keys. I’ve been lost in back-of-beyond back-waters.
During my 70 years, I’ve rescued two swimmers who couldn’t, and aided others who were just plain foolish, exhausted, or inebriated. I've rescued a family from a sinking boat; one knuckle-head from a sinking sea-plane; one empty boat, whose occupants were rescued 100 miles away by the Coast Guard; and, one family aboard a stalled boat headed for collision with a ferry. I've rescued a concussed water-skier and a brainless drowning dog.
Swimming is the only exercise I’ve ever done. I once swam every day for a year, even on days so cold I turned blue.
I’ve skinny dipped a lot. Alone.
Yes, it’s always been about water.
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