Thursday, June 10, 2010

Facing Leviathan

As we saw a brief window of opportunity to dash out to the alligator infested waters of Lake Wylie, I told Asherel we would load the 2 hard shell kayaks, rather than my inflatable.

"Why?" she smirked, throwing down the gauntlet. She knows I love my inflatable, even prefer it to a hard shell kayak. She also had read my blog about the sighting of 3 juvenile alligators in Lake Wylie.

"It's easier," I said. I did not add that it is easier to stand on top of to fight off 3 leaping Leviathans with rows of razor sharp teeth and jaws that unhinge wide enough to snap an elephant in half.

"But you love your inflatable.... are you afraid of something?"
She smiled innocently. This is the problem with letting mere children know the thoughts of their parents. It gives them leverage.

"Of course not," I answered, "Fine. I will take the inflatable."

When we arrived I put on my life jacket. I always bring my life jacket, but I don't always wear it if it is a quiet lake and there are no boats or waves to pitch me into the murky depths. I am a very good swimmer.
"Why are you wearing your life jacket?" taunted the observant Asherel, "You usually don't."
"So some of my body parts will still be floating for you to bury after the alligator attack!" I admitted.
She smiled, victorious. She had pulled the neuroses right out of me.

This was our first glimpse of the private beach and launch site we had bought a non-resident Tega Cay parking pass to enjoy. It was magnificent, even with the fear of alligators looming. The beach was sandy and deserted and looked out on a wide sparkling finger of Lake Wylie, with mansions adorning the shores. We launched our kayaks into the sparkling water and I held tight to my paddle.
"Be sure you hang on to your paddle," I called back.
I did not add that I hoped that would be sufficiently strong to bop the alligator's nose with and deter him from eating her.
Lake Wylie is a huge lake. The 3 alligators were sighted far from our spot over a year ago. Nonetheless, I paddled with one eye on the excruciatingly beautiful scenery and one eye on the surface of the water for telltale logs with eyes.

I could've kayaked all day. We skimmed near shore, amazed at houses that looked like hotels. Who lives in these? They are big enough for a small village. Finally though Asherel requested we return to the lovely beach and swim.
"You mean swim as in get in the water?" I asked.
That is the kind of swim she meant. So I posted myself as lookout and kept a sharp eye on the nearby lagoon. If I were an alligator, that is the direction I would come from. Then I saw a mama goose with goslings in the lagoon. I watched. If the alligator were there, the goslings were definitely about to be lunch.

But they passed over the placid waters without incident. So, I decided to overcome my fears and paddle across the lagoon. I kept watch over my happily splashing child and paddled tremulously over the shallow water. I thought I saw some sort of wildlife just around the bend of trees and I wanted to find out what it was. If I perish, so be it.

I paddled slowly, straining my eyes to scan the water. A fish jumped. Escaping the alligator? I held tight to my oar. And then as I rounded the bend, where the water was not much more than 6 inches deep, I saw it. A giant and beautiful Great Blue Heron, who turned to look at me.
My personal symbol of God, there in the water, watching me as I trembled in the waters filled with unknown terrors.

I returned to happy Asherel and told her it was time to pack up. As I wiped down the bottom of my kayak, I told her it was good that I did this each time as it allowed me to always look for cuts or leaks.
"Or teeth marks?" she quipped, grinning.
"Those too. And there are none."

It was a little thing, daring to kayak in a lake the size of New Jersey that has 3 alligators in it. Many people would not consider this "daring". But I have never considered myself brave. And this did take some courage on my part. Go ahead and laugh. It has given me the confidence to move on to greater fears, such as closing my eyes while someone else is driving. I think perhaps I can do that now.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

1 comment:

  1. Of all your fears, this one actually seems justified.... just sayin....