He just couldn’t stand it. He had to do it.
My husband Gary took a walk on the lake. Not around the lake. Not alongside the lake. On the lake—the icy frozen disc of a lake below our castle.
It has been a good while since the lakes around our county have turned to ice skating rinks. Our friend Hank and his son Parker once played a little hockey on the shallow end, but that was a long, long time ago.
In a photo I shared with my niece, Gary stood just out from a snowy dock.
“LOL,” she texted. “I am not showing this to the kids.”
I didn’t tell her that there would come a day when her kids would discover the temptation of stepping out on a frozen lake and more—all parental warnings dissolving in the footprints behind them.
Our kids found skydiving and canyoning (bodysurfing down waterfalls wearing hardhats and wetsuits).
Gary and I have never been giant risk takers, not even when we were teenagers.
In summer, teens in Fairmont, WV jumped into the water from the rickety old railroad trestle that once crossed the Monongahela River down by Woods Boat House.
We enjoyed watching.
We learned to ski too late to be pulled toward black diamond slopes. Even on blues, I can’t say I have ever let my skis take the lead.
My high school friends and I ice skated on frozen ponds, but I doubt I would try that now. I’ve seen George Bailey’s little brother Harry (It’s a Wonderful Life) disappear through a crack in the ice about twenty too many times.
Besides, I’m better—way better—on skates with wheels rather than blades.
My brothers and I were not afraid to climb aboard sleds and fly down vertical hills. We often piled in friends’ cars to do donuts in the mall parking lot.
I’m guessing the myriad light poles that dot the parking lot now were there then. Somehow, I didn’t see them, nor any other possible obstruction we could have wrapped the car around.
Gary and I may not be cliff-jumpers, but we’ve braved the rapids of the New River a time or three. I stick to the back of the raft. It’s the best seat in the house for watching everyone else take flight into the water.
As for flying, we’ve done that, too—by way of zip lines through forests, high in the southern West Virginia mountains.
Sometimes, though, we’ve made decisions uncharacteristic of our natures based on the current circumstances.
Early in our marriage, a motorcycle was the one 2nd method of transportation we could afford. We bought it. For three years, Gary rode it to school and back. We sold it.
He has no plans to own another motorcycle. Being thrown hither and yon on the tailwinds of 18-wheelers isn’t his thing.
I slept on a beach once after girlfriends and I decided to drive the distance. We knew we couldn’t check into our condo until the next day.
Like the light poles in the mall parking lot, we didn’t give high tide a thought. Now that I do think about it, waking to a tide washing over me would have been, well, wet. Lucky us.
I’d join friends to sleep on the beach again, though, as long as it is a warm, summer, rain-free, low-tide night like that one.
The more I think about it, the more I regret—just a little—not joining Gary on the frozen lake when I had the chance. From the shore, I snapped pictures of my husband as he walked around the middle pier and held his hands high in “Touchdown” fashion.
I later added a caption to that photograph: “When you live in a castle on a lake in Almost Heaven, you can walk on water.”