Monday, August 3, 2009


Finally got out of the furnace otherwise known as Portland yesterday, although as it happened we ended up finding an even hotter spot, some few miles East of Hood River. We had joined a group of picnickers/campers from one of the seemingly countless Indonesian churches here. One man among their group said the temperature was 112 degrees. Now I don't know about the absolute veracity of that--as I do not know that it has ever been 112 in Oregon before--but I do believe it was damn close anyway.

About a block's walk from the campsite is a river--maybe Hood River, who knows?--and therein I alternately sat and floated. How the other folks managed to stay up at the campsite talking and eating, I cannot fathom. Had I done likewise I would have been by today something resembling a hunk of charcoal, or maybe a banana skin dried to the consistency of leather.

Ah, but that cool, cool river was heaven. To tell the truth, it was cold. Like really cold. The sort of cold that is bearable only once your feet and legs go numb. Of course I'm one step ahead to begin with, since my feet are always numb anyway--which, obviously, is yet another blessing bestowed by MS. The good news never ends, in its own way.

Now the spot I had found on the river had white water above and white water below, and between the two sets of rapids a deep trough where the water ran swift and green. I could not help but hear the call of the boy still in me. What an opportunity! Why, I could wade out to the first set of rapids, lower myself into the water, and have the ride of my life all the way to the white water below!

Now hold on there, the older (much older), creakier, not to mention disabled adult objected. What happens if you can't stand up again? What happens if you bounce between the boulders and on down the river to God knows where? What happens if you break your knees, or your skull, or your feet, which you cannot feel. What's this sudden need to be stupid?

Ah, but the boy scoffed at such needless caution, and chided the man for cowardice, for being both a chicken and a bore. Sit here and fry if you want, he said, but I'm doin this thing!

No matter how limited by the old man's legs, the unwilling spasms and imbalance of MS, the boy forged forward into the rushing stream--he had done it, after all, a thousand times in the past--he had done this, and more. Yes, this in itself was mere child's play.

As it happened, the old man fell down in midstream--but no matter. What better way to immerse the whole body in the chilling water? Down they went, and then away, carried by the power of nature.

And God was it fun! So fun, in fact, that the boy and the man returned to the river three times that day, and shot down the rapids ten!

No comments: