Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Hairy Edge Of The World

It only takes 2 tablespoons of water to drown an adult human. This is why I'm not afraid of deep water. One of the coolest places on earth to swim is the Bay on South Manitou Island, Michigan. Of course, for 7-10 months a year it's hella cold water, but for the brief window of perfect weather it's amazing. There is a rocky, gravelly beach that slopes gently and turns to soft sand when you're about knee deep. The slope continues to about 8' deep; by bouncing, I can walk on the sandy bottom and come up for air between steps. My favorite thing to do is face out into the bay, eyes open, where the bottom drops out. A sandy canyon where the water turns from green to deep blue, and the abyss stretches out to invisible depths. It's like standing on the edge of the world. On our last trip, we were hiking around the island with a herd of middle school kids on a beautiful August day. A helicopter appeared, zooming and circling around the island, then went over to North Manitou, and back to swoop about South again. Later that night I asked a ranger if she knew what that was all about. She told me the sad story of a 50-something hiker who had a heart attack while climbing a giant dune. The call came in but the rescuers didn't know which island he was on. He expired, and according to the ranger, it wouldn't have mattered if the helicopter had gotten to him 10 minutes earlier. It got me to thinking, that's probably how I'd want to go. Now I'm a big fan of not dying. But if and when the time comes, I think being in the great outdoors on a beautiful day, doing something I enjoy, and exiting quickly and irrevocably would be preferable to a wide range of other options. I certainly wouldn't want some rescue team to exhaust themselves trying in 10 minutes to reverse 30 years of cholesterol and sloth. Since, as has been said, one can drown in a puddle, I pondered the situation that might ensue. The coast guard generally doesn't dispatch a chopper to rescue a poor schmuck flailing about in a gutter. The story might read, "Biff struggled against the current and his sodden clothing, but finally succumbed to a pint of dirty runoff." Now that's just undignified, and I can't have that.

1 comment:

Rick said...

What scares the hell out of me are 50-somethings succumbing to anything! I'm not goin' and no amount of vestal virgins can convince me otherwise.