|Our Little Secret|
Years ago, during our lazy summer months, it seemed a certain ritual was performed every Saturday – the trip to our swimming hole. Our town, being an old mining town, was located in some rough country. We couldn’t just drive or even ride our bikes to our favorite spot – one had to walk. Even walking was a chore. The path was barely visible, littered with undergrowth, leaves, and fallen branches. The trees also present a problem, dodging higher branches only to encounter some fallen limb or dead tree stump. But we endured and after an hour trek, our reward lay before us.
Over the years, someone had attached a rope to one of mighty branches that extended out horizontally over the river and looked like the massive arm of a giant. There everybody stood, seeing who would the first one in. Why, one might ask, did we stand around after a long and painstaking walk and not take the plunge. A whirlpool! The tree, with time and the ever-changing course of the river, stood in the water and caused a natural whirlpool.
There was a look of fear among all of us. Finally, somebody would just grab the rope and proclaim his courage – or craziness. As he walked away from the river with rope in hand, all eyes were upon him like the ringmaster of a big top. Then he was off, swinging upward and outward, suspended for a moment only to drop to the cool river below – just clearing the whirlpool. Eventually, somebody would miscalculate and fell prey to the whirlpool. Everybody stood silent and waited – finally like times before, the victim would show up on the other side of the tree. It would give us a scare, but it would erase our fear and doubt of the whirlpool. A smile told the whole story.
As the day ended, we would gather our things and make the long trek back home. On the way, the fear and doubt of the whirlpool would creep back into our minds – would the whirlpool be so willing to give up its victim next time?
Written on June 26, 1984