Sunday, January 10, 2010
A Lesson Still Fresh
Although we've been in the deep freeze here on the southern fringe of the prairie ocean for days now... I remember times when it was even more bitterly cold. It's been something quite easy for me to recall because I learned a valuable life lesson early on.
I don't remember exactly how old I was but want to say eleven or twelve. It was Saturday, and as always on Saturday my friends and I would spend the afternoon at the skating rink that was located where Flower Park in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is.
On the way to the skating rink there was a trail we could pick up and this trail mirrored the meandering of Rock Creek. On this particular Saturday, Rock Creek was frozen bank to bank and it's the only time in my life I ever remember it being such. As we explored the trail we came upon a rather hefty piece of concrete with a horse shoe shaped rebar handle. This chunk of concrete would serve as the catalyst of what was about to happen.
We decided it would be fun and a challenge to see just how frozen Rock Creek was by tossing that chunk of concrete out on the ice. So, one of my buddies gave it a heave and the concrete hit the ice without creating so much of a fracture. Of course this proved quite disappointing to the lot of us and we were determined to give it another try. However, the problem now was the our makeshift Olympic throwing hammer was out on the ice.
With me being the smallest and lightest of the gang I was elected to go out and fetch our wrecking ball. Of course my election came with a double-dog dare and no puberty-nearing boy is going to back down from such a call. I was good to go and knew it would be a piece of cake.
Indeed I did make it to the middle of the frozen creek and retrieve the chunk. But, when I give it a backward sling to throw it forward... the ice gave way. I found myself in about four feet of water which was about how tall I was at the time. In a flash I disappeared from sight and I can still remember how it felt like the life force has suddenly been sucked from me.
Bobbing from time to time trying to catch a breath I was hoping for help. One of the kids was my best friend Allen Joslin and he was a big kid. Allen came after me and he too went through the ice shortly after leaving the bank but he kept on coming. He was able to grab my coat collar and haul my little butt to the bank.
We were only two blocks away from the skating rink but by the time we got there our blue jeans were stiff as boards. All of us went ahead and put on our skates but Allen and I didn't skate. The skating rink was heated with large open face heaters and in front of one is exactly where we stayed trying to thaw our frozen selves.
I learned a good life lesson that day with the lesson being... in Oklahoma don't trust the ice over frozen waters.