My granddaughter Ellie came to visit one mild day and we had a whole 3 1/2 hours with her alone at our house while my daughter Anna visited friends in the area.
It was the first time we had her alone at our house for that long. I loved it.
Ellie and I wandered over our rural property. She picked a little apple off one of our trees and munched on it. She sampled raspberries off our bushes and decided they were too tart, but liked eating the last grapes from Pete’s vines.
She threw balls for our dog Molly, who lost her mind over having Ellie here.
We went to our pond and sat on the dock, looking for fish.
It was wonderful.
Until a gust of wind grabbed Ania, her beloved pink stuffed toy elephant. The sudden breeze sent Ania sailing away and deposited her in the middle of the pond.
I was utterly horrified. So was Ellie. She looked at me and said, "Ania WET! Ania FELL! Ania go swimming?"
Our pond is not big. Maybe one third of an acre. But as Ania drifted, I saw that, little by little, she was absorbing water like a sponge and might soon sink into the pond’s 14-foot depth.
Of course. My husband Pete wasn't around. Neither was my son Tim, home to get a break from grad school. They were in the house watching football.
So I hustled Ellie the 300 feet or so from the pond to the house, shrieking for help as soon as I got in.
Pete was unperturbed, saying the wind would probably send Ania back to the dock sonner or later. He always did panic less than me. All I could picture was us – me - diving repeatedly in 50-degree water to rescue the toy. I ran to get our canoe, and Pete followed to help pull out the canoe and fetch paddles, since I had no idea where they were.
Our canoe is probably 20 years old. It hasn't been in use for around 15 years. We keep it upside down to keep water from collecting. It floats but otherwise is not in the best shape.
I grabbed it, dragged it down the water, and jumped in, sitting on the back seat. As soon as I sat down, the very dry cane webbing on the seat began to break. So I switched to one of the thwarts, the bar across the canoe attached to each side. Instantly, the thwart snapped off. The attachment holding it to the canoe had decayed. I wound up on my ass at the bottom of the canoe, which was tipping precariously. And Ania was sinking all the while.
So I got in a kneeling position, shoved off and, while I am not Minnehaha, I still had my old form. I managed to slide the canoe next to Ania as only her elephant trunk remained above the water, like a stuffed, pink periscope.
I scooped up Ania and tossed her unceremoniously in the boat. It seemed as though the toy had absorbed a gallon of water. But no matter. Ania, who had no life preserver on, was saved from being pecked to death by bass in the 50-degree water of the pond.
I washed her and dried her before Anna came home.
All the while Ellie said, "Ania WET! Ania FELL! Ania went SWIMMING!"
Then Ellie wanted to see the fish again.
Grandmothering is not for the faint of heart!!