I was notorious for losing things as a child. I owned a hand-me-down jewelry box full of mismatched earrings, their unfortunate mates scattered along trails and resting at the bottom of lakes and rivers throughout Michigan. If I managed to keep track of any particular item for any reasonable length of time, the item in question knew a hard life. A life full of wear and tear, but also one of great adventures.
One such adventure occurred on a fine summer day when my Dad took me and my big sister out fishing on Otter Lake. We rowed over to the spring, one of our favorite fishing spots. I liked to fish with a cane pole, a long flexible pole with the line tied to the end. You simply bait the hook and adjust the bobber according to the depth of the water. I did this myself, and in so doing must not have properly secured the line within the bobber. On one of my casts the bobber detatched from the line. I pulled in my bait, and out about twleve feet away from the boat lay my little red and white bobber.
I pointed out my problem to my Dad, who patiently rowed over close to the bobber and told me to reach out and grab it. For some reason, instead of reaching with the hand that was closest to the bobber, I reached across my body with the opposite hand and sinultaneously leaned out over the boat, probably a bit too fast.
I knew how to swim, and I had a life-jacket on, so falling into the lake on a warm summer day was hardly a catastrophe, but I do remember being scared.
I wasn’t scared of drowning. I wasn’t scared of some leviathan from the deep creeping up to swallow me whole. I was scared of losing my shoes.
This statement, read by someone who does not know me, could give the wrong impression. Let me clarify. They were not nice shoes, nor was I particularly concerned about my clothes or my appearance. I was worried about getting in trouble for losing yet another belonging. They were wooden clogs with a single strap over the top of my foot. They slid on and off easily and I knew that if I kicked my feet at all they would slide off and be lost forever on the bottom of the lake.
When my head broke the surface I dog paddled to the edge of the boat. I didn’t kick my feet. Instead I let them dangle and curled my toes around the ends of my shoes in a desperate attempt to keep them from falling off. Once I was close enough to reach out and grab the boat my Dad pulled me back on board.
I can’t remember now if I retrieved the bobber, but I remember breathing a sigh of relief when I looked down and saw both of my shoes.