Four years ago, after arranging (and successfully executing) what was a very personally stressful annual client appreciation event, I decided to simultaneously blow off steam and reward myself by daytripping to Burnaby to canoe at Burnaby Lake with a friend. The weather couldn’t be better; August 31st, 2009 was a picture-perfect day. We had even seen a hawk dive bomb (and catch) its watery prey. It’s that dramatic once-in-a-lifetime moment that you don’t see in real life, unless it’s in a nature documentary.
Just as we had approached poles that had been set up for kayakers to practice navigating around, my friend jokingly suggested that we try maneuvering around said poles in the same manner.
I took the advice to heart a bit too much. On the first pole, I leaned to the right a bit too much, and heard an “oh no!” behind me. We were headed for the inevitable drink in anything but slow motion.
All our possessions flew out as our canoe obeyed gravity with impunity: lunch box, oars, hats, sunblock lotion, and digital camera. I remember looking up from underwater and thinking: my, this water is extremely yellow. I did not panic, and I had remembered not to inhale. I recall thinking that the surface of the water seemed such a long, long way off as I paddled my way back up.
We turned the upended canoe, and quickly took stock of the situation. My friend’s digital camera was the only fatality (a situation that I remedied with promise of a replacement–and thank goodness for the sealed nature of flash storage), our clothes were wet, and our sneakers were soaked, but not beyond redemption. Dignity was given quite the bruising, and our original enthusiasm for the adventure was greatly dampened. Fortunately, we were in a very narrow stretch of Burnaby Lake. There was more grass than water where we went down.
The close call wasn’t almost drowning, as we both had worn lifejackets, and do so, even when fishing from shore. It was the embarrassment of almost making the six o’clock news for all the wrong reasons that we dodged. When a couple showed up and spotted a pair of shivering canoeists and their upturned canoe by the side of the lake, their scrutiny seemed to last far longer more than the fifteen seconds they spent looking us over. Thankfully, neither one resorted to using a smartphone to capture our miserableness in full digital glory.
- Daily Prompt: Close Call (dailypost.wordpress.com)
- Daily Prompt: Close Call (poetrycrash.wordpress.com)