One of my chores as a teenager was to mow the lawn down at the waterfront. One morning this mundane task quickly became an adrenaline-filled and nightmarish experience.
Our family owned two very long docks and rented boat spaces to summer residents in our neighborhood. The docks were crowded with boats and vacationers that morning. I gassed up the little 18 inch mower and pushed it down the dirt road to the boat livery. It was pretty warm out for July, probably pushing 75 degrees. I started it and just mowed as usual, thinking about waterskiing later that day if the water kept calm. Back and forth I pushed the little mower, the Briggs just chugging away...then I felt a bug hit me on the neck, then another smacking my back, and I heard buzzing near my ear. I stopped and turned around to to see bees, Yellow-Jackets, flying out of a hole in the ground that I had just mowed over!
I let go of the mower and just ran towards the water, the Yellow-Jackets swarming after me. I ran down the boat launch, took a huge breath of air, and plunged into the water. I had the idea to hold my breath as long as I could in hopes the Yellow-Jackets would give up on me and buzz away. I stayed under I don't know how long, until my lungs were about to burst. I lunged up to get more air and go right back under in case the bees were still around, and in that brief second I was getting my air I saw that the bees were attacking all those innocent people on the docks. They were screaming and dancing and yelling and swatting them away as I re-entered the water.
I slowly swam away underwater, under one dock to the other side as far as I could go, maybe 50 feet away from the the area under attack. When I re-surfaced, people were running off the docks back up the hill to escape the area. A few were still in their boats. One little girl had been stung and she was crying, her Mom trying to comfort her. I slowly walked ashore. The mower was still sitting there, running on high. I switched it off and walked away. I finished the job later, after I poured kerosene down the bee-hole and lit it. I heard the little girl was taken to the doctor for the bee-sting. I don't believe anyone in the neighborhood ever connect me with the bee attack at all.
I fell through the ice. Once. In front of Bob Parker's camp (somebody else owns it now). It was December, I was 11 years old. There was an inch of clear ice and I just had to try it out. I walked out North from Scotty's Boat Livery and then West. I was about 20 yards offshore and broke through. I thought I was a goner but the depth was only up to mid-thigh and was so cold I could not catch my breath for several minutes. I slopped around and climbed out of there, wobbling home with frozen pants and squooshie boots- scared that it could have been worse (over my head, I'd be dead). I don't think anyone saw it happen. I never told a soul until just now...I was so frightened I just never wanted to think about it...
The nights were so cold in January. On windless starry nights, we'd walk out on the ice, the snow squeeking underfoot, looking for a comet or a satellite in the night sky and stopping to gulp as we became aware of the northern lights wavering and flourescing in the sky. It was glorious. Sometimes I thought I could hear them make a noise like little glass crystals tingling...but of course there is nothing to hear but the echo of the lake and the prattling of snowmobiles.