Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Glasses

Charlie has written about me twice in various publications. Now it’s my turn to write about him. He’s a nice guy who’s living the adventurer’s dream at an age that I can safely say is over 50. He bikes, kayaks, sails, and knows more about Russian stuff than the vodka in my freezer.
A couple days ago I had the pleasure of an invitation to kayak with him up at the Monksville Reservoir. The reservoir is named for the town that was submerged in order to make it. Its walls are the green mountains of Appalachia except where bordered by a dam affording the rare and nearly impossible view of mountains and valleys beyond and below the pristine surface of the wate

We only had about an hour and a half to explore the lake before he had to leave for a meeting and that time was spent in pleasant chitchat.
When we were wrapping up Charlie wanted to get a picture of me for his paper, so I stayed in my boat while he went to get his camera from the car. While waiting I worked on a technique called high brace skulling and inadvertently went under. Unfortunately I was holding my paddle at an awkward angle when this happened and coming up took a bit more effort then usual. Still no trouble, I was up in two moments instead of one. My hat had come off in the process though, sure it was still tied on like my glasses, but off my head. Still tied on like my glasses I thought. I put my hand to the side of my face to feel my expensive prescription sunglasses. My hat was still tied on, but my glasses where not. I double checked, they still weren't there.
Charlie was now at the top of the boat ramp holding his camera, asking me to pose for a picture. I tried to smile and look at him with the confident look of a professional kayaker. Charlie saw the distressed look of someone who had just lost his glasses. So he wasn’t quite taking the picture, and I was trying to pose. I gave up; taking my life jacket off and releasing my spray skirt I jumped into the water and swam down looking for my glasses.
I tried a number of times. Treading water, I filled up my lungs, dived seven feet down to the bottom, and swam along the sandy bottom, failing to find my glasses until I had no air left. Then I would come up as quickly as possible and, a moment later, try again. Take the air in, dive, swim along the sandy bottom with the fish. Take the air in, dive swim. I did this about 6 times.
I asked Charlie if he still wanted to take my picture and he declined, sharing the sour mood at loosing my glasses. Running late, we had already used the time we allotted ourselves. While he said we could stay longer, I knew that his meeting was important to him, and besides, my glasses would still be there the next day. So we went home and my glasses remained at the bottom of the reservoir with the rest of Monksville.
The next day I was on my way back. At this point I will leave out details in the interest of preserving the notion that I am an excellent driver except to say that I got a flat tire on the way.
Once there I got a mask and flippers from the back of my car, put on the flippers and tried to walk down to the water. I don’t know how ducks do it, walking with flippers is really hard.
Remembering that I had to walk backwards I made my way into the water and began diving for my glasses. I took a systematic approach to searching, that way I would be bound to find them.
A family with kids paddled up on a set of sit on top kayaks. We talked some and I had their sympathy for my plight. They threw a stick for their hundred pound golden lab named Bear.
Bear was very interested in my diving. The first time I came back up I had his complete attention. The next time I went down he followed me. From up above he dog paddled right behind me and turned around to head into shore as soon as I surfaced. This went on for about five dives.
I had finally completed my route with no success and now began diving randomly in areas where I thought it was more likely to find my glasses. In most places the lake bed was flat, and with the two or three feet of visibility I had, I was able to search with a high degree of confidence. In areas a little farther out there was a lot of plant life growing from the bottom, tendrils waiting to trap me. What’s more, they could hide gooey water creatures in their murky cores.
Five hours had passed and I hadn’t found my sunglasses. I am left with only one thought. In Monksville there is a turtle, who is now looking very cool.

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