July is a tough month. Many people are on vacation or want to be, the weather is at times unbearable for not only humans, but animals as well. Our patience runs short and everyone just wants to go swimming.
Growing up on my family farm, swimming did take place, but only after gardens were weeded, vegetables taken care of and morning chores were complete. On most days, swimming took place between 1 and 5 p.m. My siblings and I were very fortunate to have a father who realized that play was just as important as work and that there was a time for both. My Dad, not ever having learned how to swim, was adamant that his children would learn. His solution was to dig a farm pond; fully equipped with a floating raft, 15′ warf and a homemade slide that required climbing a 25′ ladder to get to the top in order to come down. I am sure that OCIA was not around at the time to regulate home entertainment. I must have climbed up and back down that ladder a couple dozen times before I was finally pushed down by one of my siblings.
Did I mention the slide had no sides to it? Oh, and, you couldn’t hold on to the sides to slow yourself down because the edges of the wooden framed structure would give you splinters. The bottom of the slide was at least 6′ high, so do the math and figure out how far out we were propelled into the pond. Height x weight x velocity and see what you come up with. The answer= fear and joy. To this day, I am still not sure who my Dad thought would save us should one of us have troubles swimming. Did I mention my Dad couldn’t swim?
Having missed writing the week of Fathers Day, I felt it was only appropriate to share a memory of him as a Dad and to talk about how the experiences as children are what build our character into adulthood.
What I got most from being around my Dad was the idea of following your heart and doing what feels right. He followed his heart the day he left the paper mill, chose to come home to be with his family and start a home business that would allow for him to be at home and teach us important lessons in life; except for swimming. We somehow learned that on our own.
Here at our farm, we don’t have a slide from hell, but we do have a rope swing that requires all who participate to climb a 20′ leaning tree over the Nezinscot River. The end result is the same; Fear and Joy.