Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blue kayak, red flag

There were three colors:  yellow, blue and orange.  Jerry picked an orange kayak, leaving me with the choice of yellow or blue.  I thought yellow might show dirt, so I got the blue one.  I was supremely happy with my choice.  Until.  One night as we were leaving the lake at the public access area, a boater who was also leaving said, "You do know you are virtually invisible to us on the lake at this time of night, right?"

Nooooo... I was not aware of that!  Visibility, or lack thereof, had never occurred to me.  At dusk - the time of day that you are most likely to find me on the lake -I am Chris Zimmerman, ninja kayaker.  This bit of knowledge disturbed me deeply until I saw a man with a bright orange flag attached to his kayak for visibility.  I paddled over and talked with him about it and it turns out that kayak flags are readily available online for twenty dollars, plus shipping.
Camouflaged and I didn't even know it!

The very next night, Jerry came home from work all excited.  "I was in Greenville today, " he said, "and look what I found at Radio Shack on the way home!"  He presented me with a telescoping radio antenna.  "It was only thirteen bucks.  No shipping!  I figured you could sew up a red flag, attach it somehow and it would be perfect."

Now Jerry generally isn't the frugal one of this couple, so I surmised that he needed a project. I obliged by digging out my old sewing machine and some red rip-stop nylon left over from a backpack patching job I had done for him earlier this decade.  I commenced making a flag while he went out on our back deck to attach the antenna to the kayak.  He was very pleased with himself.
For those of you who've never had the pleasure of visiting our dwelling, it is situated midway down a pretty dramatic hill and our patio juts out over nothing but a steep drop.  We live in the woods and the back of our property is heaped full of leaves left right where they dropped. They are turning themselves into lovely, dark compost in one of God's own science projects.  We never go down there to interfere because it's too steep and it's overgrown with poison ivy, a living deterrent to the allergy prone.

So first Jerry's out on the deck with the kayak balanced on the railing, drilling a hole for the antenna and the next thing I know, he's inside, madder than a hornet.  He'd dropped the little black thing [nut? screw? bolt?*] that attaches the antenna to the kayak. (*I don't know what the official hardware store name of the piece was.  Men, don't bother wasting you time trying to educate me because, in my eyes, it's not important enough info to retain.) 

Of course before he came in he had tried to find it, but talk about impossible!  It was black and about the size of a baby's fingernail.  Jerry asked me if I'd go out and help him look. I was not enthused by this idea, but he does a lot of crazy things for me and I figured this was payback. 

As I was attempting to balance myself on the hillside under the deck, I looked down and saw the ground below me undulating.  I was confused for a second as to what I was seeing but when I crouched down, I realized that I was standing in a slug nursery.  They were everywhere and the parents were huge!  That's when I abandoned my search.  (But I did wonder if slugs are the same as escargot?  Maybe our backyard is a gold mine!)

Alone again, Jerry decided to take this huge honkin' magnet down there and see if he could find the [nut, bolt, screw] that way.  Sad to say, he couldn't find the magnet in the garage.  When he realized that the magnet was nowhere to be found, he threw in the towel and went to Home Depot in disgust.  

While he was gone, I  finished my flag.  It was a thing of beauty but sort of rigid.  As a matter of fact, it was about as flexible as a piece of cardboard.  It's the right color to be sure but it won't be doing much whipping in the wind, more like perpetual standing at attention.
Jerry came back empty handed.  The [nut, screw, bolt] was a specialty item and they didn't stock it.  He went back to the woods, more determined than ever to find that little bugger.  I knew he was spitting into the wind, but I gave him credit for trying anyway.  The tiny thing could have bounced anywhere down the hill and then rolled in the gully.  He was never going to find it.

Jerry persisted.  He looked a long, long time and then the impossible happened. (Okay, maybe it was just the improbable, but it still amazed me.)  When he came in, he had that little part in his hand.  You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was so surprised  - and impressed, too.  He told me he'd just raked until he found it.  Wow!

I couldn't be more pleased with my goofy red flag on the telescoping radio antenna.  Not only is it a beacon of visibility, but it's a powerful symbol, too.  While it does keep me from disappearing amongst the jet skiers and power boaters, it's also reminds me of what persistence and determination can accomplish.  And, we saved seven dollars.  Plus shipping.

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