Our Canoe Trip, by Antonio di Grazia

Sarah, Maggie, Crystel before the canoe trip

Sarah, Maggie, and Crystel before the canoe trip

Antonio is our guest blogger this week. He wrote the following story last summer about our canoe trip down the Brule River. Before you get his rendition I need to provide you with the idyllic setting: two canoes, two moms, two dogs, two ten-year-olds, a ten-year old friend, a sunny afternoon, and calm waters. We set into the Brule River at Stone Bridge, billed as the easiest trip. I pictured a 4 hour float.

Antonio before the canoe trip

Antonio before the canoe trip

The world-famous Bois Brule River flows 50 miles north into Lake Superior.

The water wasn’t even knee-deep, and within a half hour I had taken off my life jacket, which I generally NEVER do. Antonio, who was paddling in the front of the canoe, soon asked if he could remove his. At this point, the water was ankle-deep and the calm waters had turned still. Supposedly, a person can drown in a cup of water, but the risks seemed low, so I said, “Yes.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are a few problems with this. One, you should never canoe with a dog, who is more interested in the other canoe, the other mom, the other two children, and the other dog. Two, you should never let Beth be the rear person because she confuses the canoe with a bike. Biking down a hill, I will often coast and not continue to pedal. I treat the canoe like a bike when I am in rapids. I quit paddling. The law of going fast says, “Stop doing what you are doing and you will slow down.”

Antonio said, “I think I’ll put my life jacket on” when we got close to a rapid. Taking his lead, I put mine on also.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI paddled into the rapid. Then quit. Just quit. I probably even lifted my paddle out of the water. In an instant our canoe went from traveling straight to going sideways, and the front end torpedoed into tree roots and soil. Swamped, water rushed into our canoe, taking everything not tied down, down river. “Antonio, get out!” He toppled out of the front end, digging his way with his feet and hands up the steep bank. I grabbed the dog, stumbled through the rapids. “Give me, Bandit,” Antonio hollered. I handed Bandit up to him. “Grab that tree, Mom,” he said. I reached for the branch and heaved myself up.

Earlier, Antonio impressed me when he felt unsafe and put on his life jacket. Now he was leading us through the brambles.

But this story isn’t ready for a rosy ending. Beth still has to swamp another canoe. Lose her shoes in muck. Discuss with Antonio the merits of waiting to be saved or walking from your last known spot into the unknown and talk about why people will help you even though you aren’t paying them.

Once we are back in our rescued canoe, Antonio paddles for hours without stopping to reach the landing.

In the meantime, Jody is calling 911 and listing us as missing persons.

But that’s Antonio’s story:

story 003We started to paddle. The dog had its head on the edge of the canoe. There where we had to turn quick, me and Mom got stuck in some rocks. Crystel, Sarah and Mama Jody got stuck in a branch. We had Bandit and they had Maggie in their canoe. We went in little rapids. It sped us up through the river. We got to a big rapids and we hit a tree and our canoe got filled with water, so Bandit was cold. We got everything wet. We lost our paddle. Some nice people helped us. There were two children and three persons and two fishermen. They went for our canoe. We had to wait for 1 ½ hours. We paddled back to where they were. We went through more rapids. We reached where there were no more rapids. We passed it and there was another rapid and it was done. Then we saw four eagles. We had 1 ½ hours to go. We passed boat houses. We went through another rapid. We were there. We got out of the canoe. I ran up. Mom Beth walked up there. I see where Mom Jody is. I told them Mom Beth was coming. They got there 20 minutes earlier. They called 911. Bandit was wet and cold.

I’ve heard that a person may drown in a cup of water. Still, I like to think of a cup of water as being half full. That’s why I can find meaning in swamping my child and us being listed as missing persons. I witnessed Antonio’s strength during a time of peril. That evening, instead of joining another family out for a nice dinner, we sat on our beds in our tiny, tiny, motel room just to be close.

Bandit and Maggie

Bandit and Maggie

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5 thoughts on “Our Canoe Trip, by Antonio di Grazia

  1. Pingback: Two Moms, A Sister, and a Boy Scout | WordSisters

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