The Great Boat Adventure
Adventure! That’s what was on my mind and getting my brother and sister involved would be no problem. Mom got us out of bed early like she always did, even when we were out of school for the summer. She would tell us if we didn’t want to help her clean, we better go outside and play or she’d put us to work. We always chose going outside, as most kids would. We had the entire day to keep ourselves occupied while our mom done her daily routine of cleaning and cooking and doing what moms do. It looked and felt like it was going to be a hot day and living next to a wonderful flowing creek offered refuge from the heat should we need it.
After having our breakfast, we ran outside into the bright morning sunlight, squinting as the bright light pained our eyes for a moment. This particular day we decided to go exploring in the woods that surrounded our house. The tall trees gave shade and the opportunity to climb, which I absolutely loved. I think I was in the trees more than on the ground as a child. I had often heard my parents tell people, “she’s just like a monkey, she stays in the trees all the time.” I guess I would be considered a tom-boy to some. I didn’t care, I loved doing things with my older brother. He was always tinkering with mechanical things and I wanted to be right there in the middle of it. That was way more exciting than playing with dolls or doing “girl” things. He was not always so happy about me intruding on his space and we often got into arguments. There were times, however, when he would do things with my sister and I. Of course, when he did we had to listen to him. He made it clear he was the boss.
Still early morning, we walked slowly into the coolness of the woods following a path the cattle had made on regular trips to drink cold water. We weren’t heading anywhere in particular, just looking as we went for things that might spring an idea into our heads. We kept going beyond the point where our parents had told us not to pass and came to a dumping site or as we called it a “junkpile”. This wasn’t household trash, it was tires, old tubs, an old washer, and things like that. To us it was a treasure trove of possibilities buried beneath the overgrowth of vines and weeds that covered them like a blanket. We checked it over carefully for something we might be able to make use of. There! That was it! On the ground, next to some old tires, was our adventure. It was an old bathtub and we knew exactly what we were going to do with it. That wonderful piece of junk was going to be our new boat!
We dragged the large bathtub down next to the creek to inspect it before beginning our voyage. We immediately began working on what would soon be our ship that we would sail away on. After plugging the drain hole in the bottom of the tub and gathering a couple tree limbs near the same size for oars, we were ready for our maiden voyage. We slowly pushed the tub into the creek, sliding it down a steep bank that met the cold water at a slope. First, we had to see if it would even float. We waded into the water after the tub, to our excitement the tub did in fact float. Next, we had to see if it would float while one of us was in it. Well, it took a while to decide that because we all wanted the chance to be the first one to sail in our newly found boat. Finally, since no decision could be made amongst us, we drew straws (twigs) to see who would get to try it first. My brother won…. He rolled himself over the edge and into the tub. We held the sides while it floated into deeper water. Ok, so he floated, now to see if two of us would float. My sister was smaller so it was decided she was next. She climbed in behind my brother. The tub was still afloat! Finally, it was my turn to get into the boat. I climbed in and with great excitement we were still above water.
My brother and I with our tree branch oars began pushing against the creek bed to get ourselves moving. We slowly began moving with the current. The water was shallow but we knew soon we would be getting into deeper water. What a sight for passers-by to see 3 kids rowing down the creek in a bathtub! We didn’t really think that through when we decided to go boating in a bathtub, we were just kids after all. The main road was just above the creek and followed it a good distance. Another problem we did not consider was the fact that the creek ran right past the front door of our house and we were risking our mother catching us in the water. We were never supposed to be in the water unless she was where she could see us. We were willing to take that chance, this was so much fun! The house was in sight, and we watched the front door for movement, we did not see mom so we assumed we were in the clear. Our eyes back on the water ahead, we started around the bend of the creek. “Kids, kids!” oh no, we were caught! Our mom was standing on the porch, hands on hips, telling us we had 1 minute to get out of that water and on the porch. We frantically began trying to maneuver our boat toward the bank. This was not an easy feat and soon we found ourselves dumped into the water and our boat turned upside down. Now we were really in trouble! We figured if we remained dry it wasn’t exactly “being in the water”, as that was forbidden. But now, we were drenched and knew we probably had some time coming to think about what we had done. We left the boat tottering in the water and made our way to the house slowly, none of wanting to be the first to face mom.
Finally making it up the hill and to the porch where an angry mother awaited us, our heads hung low knowing we were in big trouble. She harshly explained why we were not allowed in the water and we knew why, but as children we still push our luck. After she finished she put my brother on one end of the porch, me on the other and my sister in the middle and we were not allowed to talk to one another until our hour-long punishment was over. Do you know how long an hour is to a kid, it’s an eternity! I guess she figured that would teach us a lesson and we wouldn’t do that anymore. But, we were kids after all and the day came when my older sister and my older brother decided they were going to teach me to swim…. but that’s a story for another day.
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