August 10, 2011

The Nissequogue Queen

You should know that I’m not someone who loves the water, nor do I like it. Yet, here I am, living on Long Island, literally surrounded by the very thing. It’s the ocean that I fear the most. To stand on its sandy beaches while its water roars with profound power makes me shrink in humility. Lakes and rivers have the same negative effect on my psyche. I can only imagine that if I were to step into nature’s water stores that I would either drown or attract leeches – like poor Mr. Allnut on “The African Queen.” It’s beyond me why I would set myself in a canoe at the head of the Nissequogue River, (a tidal river, which actually flows two ways— south during the incoming tide, then north with the outgoing tide), but I did – two Saturdays ago.

The tide was coming in when we began our adventure. The river was rising as our vessel passed beneath two low bridges, causing us to hunch over and duck our heads. Unable to paddle, my husband moved us through the water, hand-over-hand on the crisscrossed rebar above us. Our rented canoe slid through the water at quite a clip as it headed toward the concrete platform that supported the bridge above us. “Push off with your paddle!” my husband warned me as we rapidly approached the platform. But I was crouching, and I couldn’t swing the paddle around to make contact with the concrete. And so we hit the platform, and instead of gently bouncing back and away, our steel canoe rode up the side and flipped both of us into the water. I was stunned. Certain that the river was as deep as the ocean and would carry me to a watery grave, I clung, completely traumatized, to the merciless, concrete wall. As my flip-flopped feet searched for a place to hold onto, my hands lay flat on top of the muddy platform, slipping , sliding, and trying desperately to get a grip! I was sure there were all kinds of gruesome, aquatic creatures swimming past me and attaching themselves to my clothing and skin. This was my worst nightmare—to drown in leech-infested waters. With broken nails and no more energy to hang on, I gave up. “I’m going under Rand! I can’t hang on anymore…” Perplexed, he looked at me. “Why don’t you just stand up? The water’s only waist deep.” If ever I’ve felt totally ridiculous, it was right then. The only word to escape my mouth was a simple, “Oh.”

The next time I’m asked to go canoeing, I think I’ll be too busy watching "The African Queen" and feeling oh-so-sorry for poor Mr. Allnut.


Maritza said...

Thanks for the laugh, I love this story !

Mary said...

Thanks for your comment Maritza!