For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m now living in Michigan, at my parent’s house on a lake, helping them as they both turn 90 in the next coupla years. I have a beautiful view of it out my bedroom window, only now it’s ice!
It’s about 1 mile lengthwise and a half a mile across from where we are to the opposite side. Yesterday my cousin was out ice fishing, so I grabbed my camera and the dog and went to say hello. I recorded my walk there with Shotzi sticking close because the ice boosts her sense of nervousness. Not mine though! In the summertime my dad offers $50 to any of the grandkids skilled enough to swim the half mile stretch. It’s a tradition each grandfather who’s lived here has offered. I’ve never swum across and gotten that $50 because I’m not the best swimmer. So I thought instead it’d be something to say I was the first one to walk it!
I periodically would turn on the camera and describe the situation, then switch it off again because my hands would get too cold. I didn’t bring gloves. It’s impossible to operate the camera with them.
As I got almost to the other side I remember saying, “I don’t think it’s official until I touch land!” And no memory of whether or not I switched it off as I approached those next couple steps. That’s when the ice gave way right out from under me. As my body dropped my very first thought was, “Oh God, it broke!” and I was now up to my shoulders in the lake, camera completely submerged. My head never went under. I remember raising my camera out and sliding it out on the ice in front of me. Shotzi was still trotting about, now in front of my face trying to figure out what was happening.
I tried grabbing at ice in front of me and it broke away. Then grabbed at the ice to my left and it broke away. “I’m in trouble! This is serious! I’m all alone!” I shouted, or thought very loudly. Then I remembered what to do. “Spread your weight!”
I spread out my arms, laid them on the ice to my right and I pulled myself up on onto it on my belly like a seal. I continued to drag myself a couple more feet, completely soaked. My heavy winter jacket, and all my clothes were now a 20 pound wet sponge on me. I stood and quickly started my panicked cold, wet walk back to the house.
“I need to get inside and dry ASAP! Are you with me Shots?” is the sentence I repeated about 40 times the whole trek back with the doggy at my feet. Thank god she didn’t fall in too! One of the scariest moments to follow was hearing ice crack again while walking back, realizing I weighed a lot more. I was soaked through my winter coat, my hoodie and my thermal shirt under that, as well as my pants, long johns, wool socks and boots.
Anyhow, I got home safely, into dry clothes and I actually poured water out of my boots! Then told the story many times sorting out how it all went down to my folks, my aunt, my cousin, and myself. My camera is presently buried in rice in a box. This is the second camera I’ve dropped in that stupid lake! I don’t plan to see how it’s doing until next week sometime. I’ll let you know if any quality footage remains.
My dad fell through the ice as a kid and he told me “Be prepared to not being able to sleep tonight because you’re running the story through your head again and again because that’s what happened to me.”
I told him I don’t think I’d be as affected as he was as a kid. I’ve had multiple dangerous things happen to me in my 50 years, so I probably wouldn’t have that experience. I was wrong. Last night I tossed and turned thinking about that black hole I fell into, and how lucky I am the dog didn’t fall in with me, imagining all the different outcomes. And today my body aches. My joints are tired and I’m delighted all I have to do today is watch the Packer game and eat pizza with my dad while the snow falls and covers the hole I made in the lake yesterday.