Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, June 6, 2008

Going With the Flow



"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open."
-Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India

When my brother was about fifteen he saved up all his money and bought a yellow dinghy.
One day shortly after his purchase he walked to the river, which was about one mile away, and I, three years younger, trailed like a dutiful sibling behind him. He carried the new boat, a pump and some supplies. No doubt I carried something too and made myself useful.
He was going on an expedition to see a friend who also lived near to a river. He would arrive at his friend's house by a non traditional means.
We reached the river, climbed down onto the grassy bank and proceeded to prepare my brother for takeoff.
It was a rather narrow river- more like a stream, really- and I expect that my brother was the first ever to try to use it for transport. In some places the river would be barely wide enough for his vessel to skim through.
Almost as soon as my brother began to put air into the boat the foot pump broke. He was aghast; the weather was hot and he did not wish to walk home again without meeting his friend.
I was horrified when my industrious brother began resolutely to pump up the boat with his mouth. I watched him grow redder and redder and the afternoon grew hotter and hotter and I was fearful for him. He would not listen to reason and he succeeded in filling up that dinghy with the air in his lungs. I think that it took about thirty minutes.
Finally he was ready to sail. I stood on the shore among the reeds and tall grasses and watched my brother float away.
Then he was a yellow blur cruising among the Summer greenery.
Then he was gone.
I walked back by myself, of course, in the blistering sun and wondered all the way there how he was faring and all the day long, too, if he had been blown off course like an intrepid explorer in a storm, or if he had actually reached his friend's home. I was concerned not merely because he was my only brother but because I had personally assisted and had set him on his path. As a direct accomplice I had much to worry about.
My sibling mercifully returned home before nightfall, as planned, but to our surprise it was by car. His explorations had led him to his friend's house where he had tied up the boat in a remote and untrampled field.
Hours later, when he went to fetch it again and drift home, the boat had vanished. It was not to be found anywhere and somebody had to drive him home.
He mourned the loss of his boat and his savings for a very long time and nobody ever established what happened to it.
But I do not suppose for one moment that my brother is sorry he had his adventure- after all, accomplishing what one set out to do is the only thing that means anything in this world.



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*The book giveaway ends Saturday night; I thought I would put out a little last-minute reminder in case any Calvin and Hobbes readers are interested.

10 comments:

Barb said...

I love...love...love reading your stories. What a facinating and interesting life full of adventures you have led.

The Texican said...

Nothing like a great adventure (good or bad) to base stories on. I'm sure he remembers each bend of the river to this day. I'll bet the legend is larger than the original story after all these years. Great telling. Thanks for the fun. Pappy

tangobaby said...

It's amazing the determination we have when we are kids. And that we actually survived our childhoods without serious damage.

That was an adventure to be proud of. I pictured both of you looking a little like ragamuffins from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

TheElementary said...

Barb, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your lovely words. I do like to think I've had adventures but also that everybody does even if they think they don't!. Some people get bored but I never do. There's something new to see in everything.

Texican, I bet he remembers too. I haven't heard him tell it in a while but you're right, it must get bigger each year with each new telling.

Tangobaby, how DID we survive? ;)
I suppose we did look like ragamuffins. I always felt like a character from a book when we were at that river and Mark Twain was top of my list. Goodness though, I can't even walk on that road now. It got too busy. But that's another story...

Beth said...

what a beautiful story--I can just imagine your concern until he returned. It is very nice to have an adventure memory to share with a sibling. I expect it was an exciting voyage for him.

Jaime said...

How funny...Tom Sawyer popped into my head as I read this story too.
Your brother was a determined young man! And a lovely adventure he had, even if it was brief. The good news is, at least he didn't have to paddle upstream to get home!
Another wonderful bedtime story.
Thank you for your beautiful imagery.

Relyn said...

You tell the best stories. I find that there is nothing like an adventure. And, an adventure that you create all on your own, for yourself? Nothing beats it. I bet your brother still has no regrets. But, I wonder, does he have a boat?

hele said...

I'm also wondering if your brother has a boat today. I will let the yellow boat float in my mind, reminding me to finish what I have started.

mermaid said...

He filled that boat with his lungs, his life. I'm not sad he lost the boat, just happy that he knew something some of us forget when we are blown off course.

TheElementary said...

Beth, I think he was thrilled to do it. Pity he didn't invite me too though :) I would have loved it. But a boy's got to do what a boy's got to do and it would have softened the adventure to take his sister along ;)
It is nice to share it with him.

Jaime, you're right- he got the easy way home. It was so strange to see him sail away up that river because as I said it wasn't a boat river. He looked so out of place :) but determined, as you said.

Relyn, thank you! I'm pleased you like it. No, he doesn't have a boat :) I bet he would like one though. I don't know where he got the idea to go boating...

Hele, you just left a beautiful image! I will share that yellow boat line with my brother. He might be inspired to redo the adventure!

Mermaid, I've seen your name a lot on Jaime's blog. Thanks for coming by here.
"happy that he knew something some of us forget when we are blown off course." That's really lovely. Thank you for that. Words like this might inspire my brother to, as I just said, take up the hobby again.

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