June 20, 2011 12:07:00 PM
Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]
Sam and I invited a friend, his wife and their grandson for an afternoon on the river. The young man suited up in his life jacket. He donned his new reflective shades purchased moments before at the Shell station. All was going well as we launched the boat at Charles Younger Landing, until it was time to board. Liam came to the side of the boat then planted his feet, "No, I''m not getting in." He started to back up.
His grandfatherly father figure kindly said, "Liam, there''s no problem. Mr. Sam is a good driver, and he knows how to drive the boat. Get in."
Liam planted his feet further, folded his arms and shook his head no; he turned and started upward on the boat launch, leaving the perplexed adults behind. His grandfather followed.
From the boat we watched and waited, as we could clearly see a discussion was taking place. Soon the young Liam returned to the boat and got in. He sat near Sam and ordered, "Do not go fast. I mean it." His grandfather said, "Liam ... " in that corrective tone.
Sam left the dock and headed upriver. It was a beautiful afternoon for boating. The sun was mild, and the breeze was warm. We pointed out the herons lifting in flight. Liam slowly ventured from Sam''s side to the front of the boat.
Sam rose slightly to his knee peering over the wheel, "There''s an alligator."
"Where?" Liam asked, now more excited than cautious.
We idled as near to the alligator as we could and tried to snap photos on our cell phones. The alligator was about as interested in seeing us as Liam had been in getting in the boat. Afterwards we saw two or three more, with about the same results.
Sam showed Liam the osprey nest, where a bird was nestled and a mate dived in and out nearby. Then Sam offered, "Liam, how would you like to dig for sharks'' teeth?" Liam''s eyes got big. "Cool."
Sam proceeded to find steep cliffs where sharks'' teeth were likely embedded. We scrounged through the boat looking for digging implements.
I broke out a coffee thermos where the gentler gender could share afternoon coffee in the cool shade of the canopy while the two older men and a boy scaled the dirt walls for sharks'' teeth. "Here''s one ... two ... three ..." they''d call out.
We enjoyed watching the men-boys climbing, digging, slipping and sliding in the mud and gathering the sharks'' teeth.
Later I asked the grandfather, "What did you say to change his mind?"
"I told him he could trust me to always do what was best for him, that''s what a father does -- and that he could trust Mr. Sam to be a good driver, or we could go over behind the tree and get a switch."
I glanced at the front of the boat to see a transformed Liam, his arms flung back, his Mohawk blowing in the wind; he hollered, "I''m king of the world!"
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a writer, who lives in the Prairie. Her e-mail address is [email protected]
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.