This has been a summer of visiting memory lane and facing monsters.
As a tween-aged child, I scored the jackpot. My only-child friend picked me to be her summer “sister” at their family cabin for two to three weeks a year.
During those three summers I had countless opportunities to learn to water ski, wind surf and swim in a lake. And for all the enjoyment and delight of water fun, a disconcerting story lurked never far from child-conscience.
The cabin sat on the shore of mighty Lake Manitoba, Canada’s 13th largest lake, known for its fishing and century-long history of Manipogo sightings. The possible existence of this serpent-like sea monster – a cousin to Scotland’s Loch Ness and BC’s Ogopogo – kept me on high alert, just in case.
A favorite activity for my friend and me involved skiing double. Her dad drove his boat one direction away from the cabin until our arms gave out and legs became jello. She and I would nod in agreement that we’d reached our journey’s end somewhere in the middle of this massive body of water and then give him the signal to stop. We would synchronize dropping our ropes and glide into the buoyancy of our life jackets until he circled back to pick us up.
Except that one day.
All went as described above until we let go of the ropes. We began our gentle descent into the darkness and just when we expected to fall back into a float, we didn’t. Our skis landed on something firm, and we found ourselves standing in the center of the lake, kilometers from any shore. We turned to each other and responded without hesitation. “Manipogo!!!!” we screamed. And then screamed some more.
No amount of reassurance that Manipogo is a myth, or explanation of variable lake-floor depths, changed our minds. We knew whose back we stood on.
I haven’t water skied since those cabin days. Until this month.
Funny how memories, like underwater creatures, can hide out of sight for decades and suddenly, while letting go of the tow rope and sinking gracefully toward shore, come flooding back. Thankfully, this time I didn’t scream wildly.
Sometime I just need my rationale self to recognize the facts and laugh at my childish interpretation. After all, lakes have varying depths and we likely landed in a shallow area. Streams flowing into the lake bring sediment that could have piled up. Vegetation can grow thick and tall under water creating a long, wide ledge. All reasonable explanations.
Or…perhaps Mani just wasn’t hungry that day.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst