Writer's Book of Days January 10th, 2009 "Write about a wound"
The first thing that comes to mind is usually the worst one, but that's no fun to talk about. Broken hearts are not pleasant at all. But I've had plenty more wounds in my life so there should be no shortage of material for this topic.
One of the earliest serious wounds I can remember happened at Kadoka Lake near Kadoka, South Dakota. Throughout my entire childhood it was family tradition for us to travel out to my father's hometown to visit my grandparents & other family during the two weeks his factory was shutdown every summer. It's a 700 mile drive & we often made the trip out there in one day. It takes something like 12 hours & if you are a pre-adolescent back in the days before the Game Boy was invented, who was also too impatient to read for long periods of time it was the longest trip in the world. Sure, there's the beautiful countryside in north-central Wisconsin & parts of Minnesota but once you get into the plains there is nothing of interest out the window for hundreds of miles except for the advertisements for roadside attractions. It's about here that you can begin counting Wall-Drug billboards
I think these early trips out west seeded in me the animosity I still hold toward flat, featureless countryside & dry, arid climates. South Dakota in the peak of summer is not fun. It seemed like it never rained, all the grass & the grains in the fields were yellow & there were never enough clouds to shield your eyes from the blinding, bright summer sun. (It was a shock to travel out during the spring one year for my Grandmother's birthday & see everything lush & green.) Some of the stores along the town's 3-block main street had air conditioning but you can only hang out in there for so long when you're a kid with little-to-no money on you. There's not much you can do in a town of 800 people.
Like I said, Dad grew up there. Until he was five he lived out on a ranch with his parents & little brother until arthritis forced Grandpa to sell everything & move into town. From there Dad stayed until he was a teenager where he joined the Army to travel Europe. So as boring a town as it was he had been there long enough to find out all the neat places to go & fun things for a kid to do & thusly shared them with me, as well as my cousin who was about the same age & always came to Grandpa & Grandma's when we were out there.
Swimming is fun when you're a kid. I'm kind of indifferent to it now but back then I loved it. I'd use the high school pool in the summer time or go down to the mud hole at Mandt Park. There weren't as many opportunities in Kadoka. I remember at one point we started going to a pool at a hotel that had one & would let non-customers swim for a fee. In later years they built a municipal swimming pool but that never seemed to be able to stay open on a consistent basis. It may not even be in operation any more.
I don't even remember how far it was from town but there was also Kadoka Lake. (Not to be confused with "Turd Lake" which was on the opposite end of town out in the country & had an entirely different function.) If it weren't after two in the morning I might get a hold of my dad & find out what it's actual purpose was but to kids like me & my cousin it was just a body of water to play in on a hot summer day. Dad took us out there one such hot summer day & we had some fun splashing around in the shallow area near shore. I don't think any of us was comfortable going out too far because we didn't know what the condition of the bottom was like & the water was all murky. I wouldn't set one foot in it now but I was a kid & didn't care. I had fun going out & submerging myself, then slowly rising out of the water & stomping toward shore like Godzilla on a bad day heading toward Tokyo. RAAAARRRR!!!!! RAAAARR ROOOOARRR!!!!!! And then I'd splash whoever was nearest just before I stepped out of the water. It was good fun.
It was on one of these monstrous appearances where I took a step & suddenly felt a sharp pain in my right leg. At first I thought something bit me because every kid knows about snapping turtles & that all snapping turtles could bite off your finger just like that. It's why you have to be really careful about swimming in rivers & ponds & places like that. Well, I dropped the theatrics & hurried out of the water. My howling & hollering -- as opposed to my roaring -- had attracted the attention of my father who rushed over to see what was the matter. I was standing there bawling, soaking wet & trying to limp to someplace that wouldn't hurt. I was able to convey to him that I was hurt, somewhere on the leg. I then looked down to indicate the gash & watched in horror as a squirt of blood literally arced out of my leg & onto the ground.
I panicked. Through kids' eyes that looked like a full pint of blood shooting out of an opened artery. Fortunately my father was on it in an instant & had rolled & tied his handkerchief around my calf in a quick, makeshift bandage. The blood slowed & I was quickly driven back to town, whimpering & sopping wet.
I don't remember seeing a doctor. I know one was called but I think he was unavailable for one reason or another. The small town doesn't have an actual hospital, but there are supposed to be people available for emergencies. It's another detail I'll have to ask my parents about. I do remember being uncomfortable & scared about the whole ordeal mostly because I didn't get to see an actual doctor.
So my parents were able to stop the bleeding & put some proper bandages on my leg. It wasn't as bad as we had feared & I healed up just fine. I had a scar there for many years but as I search my leg all over for it tonite & can't find it any more. It may have moved as I grew, healed over completely or is just hidden by leg hair. Or it could be one of any number of nicks, scratches or blemishes I currently have. It's hard to say. All I have left is the memory, & an unsettling aversion to swimming in any sort of natural body of water.
What bothers me the most about the whole incident is that we never found out what it was that poked the hole in me. I thought it was a bite but it just looked like a half-inch vertical cut. I never did find out if there were turtles of any sort out there. Dad suggested it was broken glass, dislodged from the bottom by the stomping around but nobody else received any cuts or scrapes while out there. It could have been a piece of metal from something discarded out there but I probably would have tripped on the rest of it. As it is I don't believe we ever went back to Kadoka Lake. Not to swim anyway. And I, for one, don't miss it one bit.
Writer's Book of days Jan 6th 2009 "Write about Bathing"
I can't remember the last time I took a bath. This isn't to say that I don't bathe - I shower daily - I just don't remember the last time I filled the tub with hot, sudsy water, sank back & had a proper rubber ducky, soap-in-the-toes, shampoo-horn bath.
They're too small. Not the baths, but the tubs themselves. Imagine your standard bathtub. Now remember how tall I am. If I sit in a bath only my legs get wet. My hips are at one end & my feet are pressed up against the other. Sure, I can bend my knees & sink down to my neck in the water but that still leaves most of my legs exposed to the cold, cold air. Bathtubs just aren't suited to my stature.
Even if I did have a tub of proper size I probably wouldn't take as many baths. They take up quite a bit of water & that's one thing I don't like to waste. Each month my water bill shows an average of how many gallons per day I've used. I've taken it upon myself to keep that number as low as possible. I've had it down to 27-28 before but usually I'm just over thirty. Compare that to the 80-100 gallons per person per day as estimated by the US Geological Survey's Water Science website. It's easy enough if you make sure you don't have leaky fixtures & keep your showers short. In fact, sometimes I have the water on only long enough to get wet. Then I turn it off & suds up with the soap & turn it on just long enough to rinse off again. Yes, it's just that easy.
Of course, this is going to change somewhat in the near future. My new place has a deck out behind the house with a weird "L" shaped cut into one of the corners. This "L" shape was designed specifically to enclose a hot tub. The previous owners had one & the pipes & connections necessary are already there. So once I've moved in & settled down I will set a task to fill that gap once again for some hot times in a new tub. Now, it may seem hypocritical to want a hot tub after all this talk about water conservation. But once it's filled you can leave the water in there for 3-4 months before refilling, & that's if it gets heavy usage. So I think I'll be in pretty good shape. Especially when I'm already using 70 gallons per day less than the average schmo-on-the-street.