A View From The Lake 8/7/96

This article submitted by Linda Lorentzen on 8/7/96.

As I saw my son trekking down to the lake, outfitted in a wet suit, fins, snorkel, and mask, it was a flash to the past. My brother, Steve, was his age and stature when that outfit entered our cabin life.

Steve had been pressing my parents for a motorized dirt bike for months. I knew there was NO chance my mother was ever going to allow that purchase, especially after the skiff incident.

My father had resurrected a skiff from his teenage years. The small platform of a boat looked like a wedge about three feet wide by five feet wide by five feet long with a mounting place in the rear for a motor. The operator stood on it, while the motor was running, and by shifting their weight, the crank changed directions. It was a prehistoric personal watercraft. Steve talked my dad into using it; my dad talked to mom about the safety of it and how he had never had an accident. The skiff was in use for a couple of summers. Then one day, Steve fell off for whatever reason, and the skiff kept going since it didn't have a kill switch on the motor. I was on the dock when the skiff headed toward me. By reaching out, I was simply able to stop it. My mother witnessed the event and at the next bonfire we used the chopped up skiff for firewood. After that incident no one was going to convince her that a dirt bike was safe.

Because of my brother's persistence, my parents finally developed a plan, scuba diving lessons instead of a dirt bike. To this day I can't see the relation. Scuba diving is a water activity, dirt bikers drive on dirt tracks or roads. Scuba diving is a quiet activity, dirt bikes are notoriously noisy. Scuba diving requires all kinds of training and gear, dirt bikes require the bike and a helmet. Whatever the reasoning, Steve seemed to be pacified.

All I remember about the lessons was that the final test sounded awful. Most of the lessons were held in a pool and on that last day my dad and brother had tin foil placed on their face masks. As they were swimming blindly around the pool, the instructor randomly surprised them by pulling off their mask or mouthpiece. The goal was to put everything back in place without having to surface. Just hearing about the test was enough to diminish any flicker of my desire to pursue scuba diving.

After they passed the scuba diving course they were outfitted in black wet suits, fins, masks, and snorkels. They never again went scuba diving, but we often used the equipment to snorkel and explore the shallow depths of Koronis. My parent's plan to divert Steve's attention from dirt bikes was a success.

Twenty-five to thirty years ago, along our shoreline, the weeds were thick and included lily pads and "reeds." We would snorkel around the dock, looking for the coral reef. Jet black bullheads were the closest of anything to color that we encountered. Coming face to face with a bullhead was almost as exciting as a ride on a dirt bike, you just didn't have to wear a helmet. Most of the exploration was done through murky water; if one of your fins touched the bottom, the silt spread like a dense wall of debris. But if we were careful, we could enter this water world with ease and witness a very different life. And the best part was the silence, the most noise being the muted roar of distant motors.

Now another generation is experiencing the shallows of Lake Koronis. Most of the lily pads and reeds are gone, but the bottom remains soft and muddy. When my children are under the water, the muffled roar of a distant motor is more apt to be a constant sound, instead of an occasional interruption of silence. The fish are still there, if only in lesser abundance. I'm waiting for my daughter to realize that she's swimming with the fish and that she can come very close to them With that realization she will exclaim, "I didn't know I was sharing, with the fish, a view from the lake!"

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