Too old to float the Buffalo

In this instance, “the Buffalo” is the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, U.S.A. Without giving away my age, let’s say that on that particular day, I was  the perfect age of a grandmother.  My kids insisted that I go along on a canoe trip. I was not too old to float the Buffalo, they emphasized.  Never mind that I’m not a good swimmer. Not to mention that the rapids are sometimes reckless and that most canoe floats wind up with somebody dumped into the water, regardless of his or her swimming record.    “Just come with us, Grandma, and we’ll have fun.” 

And so I went. My husband, Gene, and I floated serenely along, admiring the green and flowering growth along the banks of the smooth-flowing mountain  stream. Guaranteed not to drown with my life jacket on, I was brave enough to totally relax when Gene slowed the canoe to drift around in a calm pool of the river. As he paddled out of there toward the rapids, the canoe spun into a log that was hidden underwater.   Gene jumped out as the canoe slipped sideways; then it capsized.  I was under the upturned canoe and under water.  My quick-acting husband flipped the canoe up and away; I surfaced and Gene caught hold of my life jacket and pulled me from the rapids.  The kids came running, yelling, “Are you okay?” Concern in their voices rose above the sound of the rapids.

“Yes!” I answered, wiping water from my face.   “I’m just mad!”  And at that, the kids broke into laughter.  Remember, they said it would be a fun trip!

Out of that experience came this little poem, which won a prize in a poets’ contest. So, the canoe trip ended up being fun, after all.

My Husband, My Hero

Our canoe spun.  Gene jumped.
Canoe slammed into stump.
Screaming, I dunked under;
Rapids ripped like thunder.
Gene flipped canoe on end
And grabbed me at the bend.

c Copyright 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols



15 comments on “Too old to float the Buffalo

  1. Greg Nichols says:

    Hey Mom. Love this tale of adventure. It seems so vivid, like I was there, or something. Oh yeah, I was, and I do remember you being “mad.” It’s one of those life experiences that you should not have missed, and glad you didn’t! Keep up your great writing and sharing it with your nice blog.


    • Yes, Greg, You were there. You were one of those so sure I’d have a great time and one of those worried until you found out I was “just mad” because I’d spilled into the water and under the canoe. None of you kids even thought that could possibly happen to your mom. I did have a good time that day. But I’d never be the first to say, “Let’s go float the Buffalo.”


  2. My sister has tried to talk me into one of these adventures. I do believe I will continue to pass–especially since I would not even produce a poem out of the experience!


  3. fivereflections says:

    glad to hear you went along! add another memory to reflect on!
    David in Maine USA


    • Yes, me too! It was a fun trip despite the unexpected moment of danger! David, I enjoy your haiku relating to the sea. We lived in Kittery, Maine for three years. Close to a bay of the ocean. Our daughter was born at Portsmouth Naval Hospital on a little island. We re-visited the area in ’06. Beautiful along the Maine seacoast. Keep your haiku going for your blog.


  4. Dorothy Johnson says:

    Loved it! You’re a way cool grandmother and Gene is a hero, for sure!


  5. Dot Hatfield says:

    What a great story! What a hero Gene was.


  6. I’m glad I lived with the experience, but I could have lived without it, too!


  7. Pitty says:

    Oh, your experience unleashed one of mine. Thanks. I can just see (and hear) you!!! pl


Your comment shines like a star above Banner Mountain

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s