Yesterday it was scorching hot just like the day before, only hotter, though the hazy droplets that hung in the sky like some noxious mist had disappeared. We decided to take a stab at bringing Calvin out on the boat since by nine o’clock in the morning it was already well into the eighties.

Years ago, before Calvin was born, Michael and I owned a sweet little thirty-five-year-old Boston Whaler. We took it on lakes, tidal rivers and brackish inlets navigating carefully around rocks in the changing tides. Michael fished for bass and bluefish while I sunbathed on the bow dreaming up at gossamer white clouds sailing by.

The summer after Calvin was born we brought him along on a few of our river outings. Those excursions wreaked havoc on our psyches. He spent most of the time bawling and was difficult to handle in a life vest that practically devoured him. None of us had any fun. We stopped boating. We sold our beloved Whaler.

Eventually we secured some in-home nursing help to care for Calvin. Because of his seizures it took me months—perhaps years—before I felt comfortable leaving him for more than an hour at a time. But when I did we found another Whaler, smaller and slightly newer than our first. It took us until our third summer to get up the gumption to take Calvin out on it. Yesterday we finally did.

Michael skillfully backed the boat into Pleasant Pond, a beautiful lake laced with lush trees, cascading lawns and rustic cabins. We cinched Calvin into his life vest, a slightly better fit than the last one but still riding up around his ears. I hooked a bungee cord to the back of his chair and lassoed him snugly into it for support. We were frying in the heat so I brought an umbrella to shade Calvin from the unforgiving sun. As we flew across the water, the warm wind whipping through Calvin’s hair, he smiled.

When we found a small shady spot near the water’s edge I jumped in. The bottom was soft and muddy, long wispy grasses gracefully suspended in the still water. Michael hoisted Calvin down to me as I stood precariously on a mossy submerged log. Calvin delighted in the cool water, splashing and giggling in my arms. My heart swelled with joy and triumph for the mere fact that we were able to make this outing work.

Later in the evening we opened up the house—which had inched to 88 degrees—to let a breeze run through it, albeit a 96 degree breeze. Just after our guests arrived I became faint and nauseous from dehydration and had to sit down for the good part of an hour. As I drank copious glasses of water, while lethargically chatting with our guests, I reflected on our wonderful day at the lake and my happy feeling of triumph. But in my dizzy meditation my thoughts turned to the less fortunate, to those who have no access to the water, no insulation in their homes, no fans, even some who have no running water. What are they doing in this heat—this relentlessly sizzling summer day—I thought. I felt foolish gloating over my successful day on the water, taking such leisure for granted. We're incredibly lucky, I thought, as I so fortunately sipped another glass of cold, filtered, fizzy water and hoped the world could keep cool, at the very least for the night.

photo by Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. Love following you....made me smile to think of you guys getting back to boating and with Calvin. People take for granted being able to go places with their spouse and children.....