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