Friday, November 23, 2012


Walking down Tremont Street in Boston one bright winter day with the temperature at something like ten degrees Fahrenheit, I reflected, "If it was always like this I might actually get some exercise." On a camping trip with my first husband, I rescued his fishing tackle when he was about to abandon hook, line and sinker rather than venture into the chill water of Lake Champlain.  In short, I resist cold better than heat.

My son went through a phase of fascination with battery-powered toy vehicles, mostly cars, although he aspired to a boat and an airplane. He never got around to the airplane, which is just as well, given his adventure with the boat. He bought it with money he got for his birthday. Dismayed as I often was with the use he made of funds that he came by in childhood, including the generous allowance I began issuing him when I got tired of being hit up for money, I stuck to my principles: He could do as he liked with his money as long as he stayed away from the hazardous, the illegal, and anything that would adversely affect someone else, especially me.

My sister came to watch us launch the boat onto the Otter River Pool. I think it puttered about some before it did a Titanic -- upset itself and sank -- a couple of feet from the shore. The battery case came open and dumped the batteries into the water, together with the top of the battery compartment.

We tried to fish the boat out with whatever was at hand. Maybe we didn't have anything long enough. Maybe the boat was caught on something, or positioned in such a way that it couldn't just be raked out. It became clear that the only way to rescue the boat was to get our hands on it, and the only way to do that was to wade into the water.

We weren't overwhelmed with volunteers. The Otter River Pool is locally famous for cold water in July. On this November day, an inch or so of ice made its lacy way along the shore. But we couldn't abandon Justin's birthday boat, and we shouldn't leave the batteries to corrode in the water. I took off my shoes and socks and rolled up my pants and set forth. It was plenty cold, but retrieving the boat and locating the batteries didn't take long.

     Justin was grateful, and Paula was impressed. "Justin, you owe your mother," she said.