Lake Reflections: High Diving Bravado
What Happens at the Lake Doesn't Always Stay at the Lake
By Judith Homburg
This was it! My clammy toes yelled, "Stay," as they gripped the edge of the 20 foot high piling supporting the swimming dock. My arms refusing to hear the deafening shout, slowly, deliberately formed a graceful arch above my head and heedlessly prepared for the fateful dive.
Each year the exploits of the gaggle of teens who had cut their teeth on the edge of Brown's Lake dock grew bolder. Since my brother, Dennis, two years my senior, was the natural leader in the all unpremeditated fearlessness, it only followed that his sister must be his female counterpart. (This logical thinking followed the excellent reasoning of the need for the exploits to begin with, right?) My progression began around three years of age when I first waded out over my head and some vigilant adult snatched me from a sure death by drowning. Then it seemed only a flash of time that we all were swimming to the floating dock in water that was too deep to be measured without sounding. Next, of course, was throwing to the wind the most fearsome warning of all by our parents to NEVER SWIM THE LAKE WITHOUT A BOAT! The thrill of getting away with that soon grew boring, until my faithful brother hatched the latest, "Let's see how deep we can go."
"Great!" I chorused. And, without another thought, we dove into the black of the DROP OFF! (Even today, few if any, know the depth of that black pit where safe swimming meets blackness and all give great respect by using caution.) Watchers on the dock said they soon lost sight of my white swimming suit as we muscled our way into the darkness below, fueled by sheer craziness. When screaming lungs lunged us to the surface, a searing pain bolted through my right ear. Equalizing, that prevented broken ear drums, wasn't part of these country bumpkins' vocabulary...yet.
The risk taking was not confined to the swimming area, for near the lake were abandoned mine shafts to trace and slag heaps to start miniature avalanches on, but our finest feats of senselessness seemed to emerge at the lake where, you guessed it, we had an audience. And day after day as I would make a grand jump or dive from the second deck on the diving tower, my thoughts would turn to the piling support the tower. Hmmmm, that wouldn't be so much harder, I would reason. My courage knew no bounds when I was dressed on the dock and my imagination could see the fine figure I would cut, gracefully flying through the air with a whole crowd of spectators!
Somehow today it was different, the bravado seemed tucked away with the shed clothing in the bath house. This was real and I was going to dive higher than I had ever before. Suddenly, my body was in midair and only a nanosecond later the cold water that had always touched me with liquid joy, reached out and wrung my neck with iron cruelty. I had been injured I knew but hot pride camouflaged the pain as I made a confident emergence from the ladder.
My mature heart is grateful that everything that happened at the lake did not stay at the lake. The benefits and joy of being a child of Nature year after childish year produced strong bones and health. And, the sure consequences for disregarding Her immutable boundaries built a solid foundation of love and respect for my Creator. The inspiration to pursue courageous enterprises to prove the strength of my femininity however, was, gratefully, left at the lake.
Judith Homburg writes of her childhood home in northeast Washington state. There, she and her siblings lived within a stone's throw of Brown's Lake. Many wild and crazy, as well as lovely, memories were made there.
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