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Waterski with Me
My uncle had a boat.
My uncle had a boat and almost every weekend each summer when I was a young girl, he took it to the nearby lake where he would water ski. My father and uncle were experts at skiing. My dad could make the water shoot up like a geyser beside him as he skidded along on top of the lake. He skied on one ski he called a single. He had one foot in front of the other and the spray was awesome to behold. I longed to ski like that and I begged them to teach me how.
Finally the summer came when my uncle condescended to teach me how. First he had to cut down two regular skis to fit me because I was short. Okay, I was only 11 years old. He polished and waxed the skis until they were very smooth. As smooth as glass.
Necessary life preservers
I had to wear a big, bulky, annoying life preserver all the time I was learning to ski. I didn’t like it and told my parents and my uncle that it was too uncomfortable and in my way. I was a good swimmer. I thought I didn’t need it, but they insisted I wear it. It would keep me safe if I fell off the skis. I didn’t know it then but I fell a lot and I was glad to have the life preserver then. I would get so tired out in the middle of the lake after falling countless times, that I’m sure I would have sunk to the bottom if not for that big, annoying life belt.
Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.— Martha Beck
The first day on skis.
The awesome day dawned. That wonderful day when Uncle said I was ready to learn to ski. I stepped out into the water and slipped on my new skis. They felt strange. My uncle said I had to keep my knees bent and both feet in front of me. It was hard holding the skis straight up so just the tips stick out of the water in front of me using only my ankles. I had to keep the rope between the tips of my skis. He said when I was ready to yell, “Hit it.” Then he would step on the gas and away we would fly.
At least that was the plan. I tried hard to keep the rope between my skis but they kept wobbling in the water and when I yelled, “Hit it,” the rope pulled me straight out of the water and onto my face. I don’t know why I didn’t think about inertia doing that but I didn’t. I had to let go of the rope or be drug across the surface of the water face first, drinking a good portion of the lake water. My uncle slowly circled the boat around so the rope came close enough for me to grab again.
Drinking the lake water.
In position, tips of the skis just a little out of the water, rope between, knees bent. Again, I yelled, “Hit it,” determined this time to stand upright on my beautiful new red skis. But again I landed on my face with a mouthful of water. “Keep your knees bent,” Uncle yelled this time as he passed by in the boat. Yes, I will… I thought I had.
This time I started to rise out of the water. “I’m doing it, I’m doing it,” I thought to myself. But I forgot to keep my body, hips and shoulders over my feet and the rope pulled me too far forward to keep my balance. This time I fell harder and swallowed more water. When I came up coughing and choking, my uncle laughed, “You’re not supposed to drink the lake!” “Very funny. This time for sure, I’m doing it.”
Have you ever tried waterskiing?
This time for sure.
I yelled, “Hit it,” and up I went. I was leaning a little but remember to put my balance over my feet just in time. I was moving on the water. I was skiing. What a thrill. What a rush. But soon we were going very fast. I don’t think I ever moved that fast before, outside a car, that is. The wind was blowing in my face and the water was skidding by at high speed. Suddenly, I looked down and got scared. I shouldn’t have looked down.
I don’t know how I fell. All I remember is spitting out water and the boat coming back around for me. “What happened?” my uncle yelled to me. I didn’t know what to say. I sure wasn’t going to tell him I got scared so I said, “I don’t know.” “Let’s try again. You were doing good until you fell,” he encouraged.
Yes, I was. I was doing great till I let the speed scare me. Not this time. Keep your knees bent, rope between your skis, keep your weight over your feet, you can do this just like Dad. Hit it! Up I went. It was beautiful. The wind whistled through my hair. I flew over the water. I was a bird. I was a graceful swan. I was queen of the lake. We went around the lake for a long time. My bathing suit and hair was completely dry, blow dry.
Too soon it was time for me to drop the rope and slide to shore. Uncle Dayton made a pass close to shore where I was supposed to drop the rope. I felt like I was flying. I felt like I could skid smoothly on my wonder-skis all the way to dry land. But after a few feet I slowed down and began to sink. I was sorry my bathing suit got wet again and my hair too. I was sorry my ride was over. It was so much fun. I couldn’t wait till the next weekend and a skiing trip again. I would be queen of the lake all over again. Even if I have to drink some of it to get there.
It's hard to give tips to skiers if I don't know how they ski, but I think the most important thing in skiing is you have to be having fun. If you're having fun, then everything else will come easy to you.— Lindsey Vonn
Waterskiing was loads of fun even if hitting the water at 30 miles per hour felt like slamming into the concrete pavement. I was very fortunate to have an uncle who spent the time to teach me to ski and would take my siblings and me to the lake each weekend during several summers in a row. It all ended when his boat became too old to work properly and he decided not to buy another one.
We often took tents, cook kits and food, spent the night there on the lakeshore and started skiing again from sunup to sundown the next day. It made for some pretty awesome camping trips during those summers. I remember once waking to find a blue-bellied lizard looking at me perched on the side of the tent. About 5 inches in length, I caught him and brought him home. Unfortunately, he escaped the cage I got for him and we found his mummified remains under the clothes dryer years later.
A rich childhood experience.
We often saw deer, rabbits, lizards, and even a snake or two during our lake camping trips. It made for a very rich childhood experience for me.
I’m older now and can still swim quite well, but I doubt if you could get me back on those skis. It was fun as a young person to exert yourself that way but I doubt I could keep my knees bent that way anymore. Also I have plenty of aches now without adding to them by slamming into the water at 30 miles per hour. They are memories I cherish but don’t intend to repeat anytime soon.