We were exploring the Redwood Forest in northern California when we stumbled upon an exciting river. It was deep enough to intimidate me, with my waterproof hiking boots that were tall enough to be called boots, but screamed, “please no!” when they realized my adventerous mind was winning.
“If you go, I’ll follow” were the only words that needed to be heard. As we began to conquer the fallen tree, (whose branches looked like warning daggers, mocking us for thinking we could succeed), we immediately felt like victors. The path through the river continued to prove itself, as our playground, worthy.
When the waters were too deep, I was hoisted up and carried like a sack of potatoes. I laughed so hard my tears added to the waters below. I don’t remember if I was laughing because of my predicament, or because of how people were responding to our resolution (of my hiking boot height problem). I felt like a kid again, on the playground, competing with my friends to break the party line and swing higher than everyone else on the swings, or holding an audience captive while flipping around on the parallel bars to a song that I shouldn’t have been singing. Or, climbing a tree as far up as I shouldn’t have gone, or having all my friends over for a birthday party and staying awake past midnight!
The river presented obstacles around every bend. Each time we overcame one, we encountered another. With each accomplished feat, we grew more confident in our river skills.
We were in a moment, trekking through the rough waters, enjoying the solitude, when I noticed a rock that looked like a large red potato. I was lowered down so that I could reach the potato, and just as my hand grasped the red potato, it was hoisted above my head. I proclaimed something absurd about how awesome the rock was, and then realized that humans were in our midst. Our rock exclamation was witnessed by unexpected spectators. A British lady whose husband’s name was James was standing on the shore wearing cute little water shoes. She looked at the sack of potatoes hoisted up, and asked a question that I never expected to be asked while conquering a river… “Are your shoes waterproof?” (insert your best British accent here).
Since she was not laughing, I contained mine. “They are waterproof!” I told her, in my American voice, with my child-like, beyond excited-adventure voice that had not yet left the playground.
James’ wife, stuck on the shore, looked down at her water shoes, then up at my boots, still attached to the hoisted sack of potatoes, studied me, as the potatoes, then my shoes, and then her husband. She exclaimed, “Well, what kind of man are you, James???”
We could no longer contain our laughter. Since it was already awkward, we just carried on up the river, repeating her words in our best British accent. “James!, what kind of man are you???” we asked him, over and over.