Archive for Thursday, September 11, 2003

Bits and Pieces

Water wets our appetite for fun, caution

September 11, 2003

I have been thinking about water a lot lately.
This summer, standing on the edge of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minn., I was reminded again of the fascination we all have with great bodies of water, especially the ocean. They conjure up various thoughts of beauty, danger, enjoyment, comfort and respect.
Once while visiting our nephew in Portland, Ore., and walking along the beach, I mentioned that I almost felt I could walk into the water and it would be like going home (this coming from someone who doesn't even put her head in the water).
My husband mentioned that my feeling might arise from the fact that we came from water, meaning the ocean. To me, it meant that I came from that comforting, watery place inside my mother. Only later did I think about what he said, and whether you believe in the ocean theory or not, I think everyone will agree we tend to gather at the water.
I was thinking especially of this Labor Day weekend and how so many gathered at lakes across Kansas and how others who lived near the ocean spent the last days of summer on the beach.
My own family was on the Lake of the Ozarks in spite of the intermittent rain. With six boys in one of the houses, they were going to swim no matter what. It's that evil energy thing that occurs when boys are shut up together for any length of time, especially if it's raining. Thirty minutes are about the max.
I also thought of all those who found their way to the swimming pools in the area during the weekend. Even the dogs in Lawrence got their chance at the Lawrence Aquatic Center on the last day it was open for the summer. The pool issue in Eudora comes to mind again -- who uses it and who doesn't. It's all about water.
When we vacation, if we are not into pools we often find ourselves seeking a retreat with some form of water -- perhaps a babbling brook, the sound of which is comforting and the stuff of poems -- or perhaps we install one of those "water gardens" in our backyard that comes complete with a pump so we can hear the sound of running water.
Then there is the rain that came last week -- six to seven inches -- that has been so badly needed this heat-filled summer. Along with the welcome relief from the heat and drought, it reminded us of the downside to water; the scary side that sends you to the basement at 4 a.m. when you no longer hear the comforting sound of the sump pump belching out the water that otherwise would be filling your basement.
And of course rain on the roof can be wonderful if you're in bed, warm and cozy. But not so great if you are in your car on Kansas Highway 10 and it's pounding on the hood relentlessly as you peer nervously through the windshield trying to see as the cars whiz past going 80 miles per hour.
We also have the dangerous and awesome side of water that scatters 10,000-pound cement highway dividers like toys and sweeps cars off the road in a matter of minutes. We saw in the news this past week where a six- to seven-foot wall of water swept across Interstate 35 in the Flint Hills by Emporia, sweeping a man and another family's mother and children to their deaths, leaving the father and husband as the lone survivor.
It's a "ponder," as my Gramma used to say, this thing called water, which we take for granted as we wash our clothes, dishes, cars and ourselves. It's what we flock to in the heat for relief and fun. It's what we look on with respect and reverence as we stand on the beach. It's what we ski on in winter and taste as snowflakes on our face. It's both comfort and terror and always a thing of wonder.
We use water in our religious rituals to signify new beginnings and conversion experiences, as many of us believe we must be born again of "water and the spirit." Many of us start our lives with water being poured over our heads and sprinkled on us at the time of our death. As for the spirit, well, it's up to each of us to find that in the everyday experiences of our lives.
Sorry to wax philosophically, but that's where my thoughts are as I write this. I hope everyone contemplates and muses about his or her own thoughts concerning water and remember never to take it for granted -- neither its beauty, wonder nor power.
I can't close without a little humor. As my kids would remind me, "Lighten up, Harold."
I'll tell you a story about one of the G-Boys. Coming home from the lake a few weeks ago, Grant, my six-year-old grandson, was rewarded with a small bag of candy corn at one of our stops.
Sitting next to him on the way home, I asked him for a piece or two.
He looked at me very somberly and said, "You know, Gramma, I only get this candy once a year and, you know, I just want it all to myself."
He did grudgingly hand over three valuable pieces.
Later on when his mother had confiscated the corn, he asked me for some of my M&Ms.
After looking at him somberly for a long time, I said, "You know, Grant, I only get this candy once a year, and you know how it is," to which he nodded quite seriously.
I did eventually later relent, as Gramma's usually do.
As you read this, I will be in Colorado with my son's family and another grandson, Lucas. Watch for more of the grandson serials in weeks to come.

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