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More than my pride was hurt

I lifted my head. Being able to do that meant it was still attached to my neck and my body. Which meant my spinal cord was intact. Which meant I had not been crippled.


In forty-plus years of being around boats, I have never tripped over any lines, ropes for you landlubbers, which are required to tie a boat to a dock. Same with steps. Whether inside the boat or whether the ones required to get on and off a boat. Or anything boat-related. Including those monstrous thick electric cables and those sneaky waterlines.

I did fall overboard once, but that doesn’t count as I had had three strong G&Ts, and we were safely tied up at the time.

So, what happened that I tainted my stellar record at last?

It rained. Then it rained some more. Then it rained again. And the creeks filled up. And the rivers overflowed. And at some point, the whole danged lot flowed into Lake Champlain.

But don’t worry; there’s no Climate Change. It’s a hoax.

I had to research where the deluge was coming from. A Native Vermonter tried to explain. I gave up. By the way, that Native Vermonter is my husband, not known for his patience. I rest my case.

The boat ladder I prefer has four steps. When we arrived in June, the side deck of the boat was much lower in the water than the top step of the ladder. With the way we are docked, I’d hug Peanut, the five-pound dog, under my right arm. I’d grab the boat railing in my left hand and place my right foot on the second step of the ladder. It was too high, uncomfortable, and unsafe to step up onto the ladder’s top step from the boat.

Once there, I would go down backward, always the safest way to negotiate steps on a boat. One step at a time, until the last step would be on terra firma.

With the rising waters, the side deck of the boat is now much higher than the top step of the ladder. It follows that stepping off the boat now must be onto that top step of the ladder. After that, everything remains the same. One foot after the other going backward until you are on terra firma.

I’d love to blame someone else for what followed. After all, this is America; it’s never your fault; someone else must have caused what happened.

In my case, I blame a tree.

A Yoga Class and a Maple tree

I’d been to a miserable yoga class. It should’ve been in the cool, air-conditioned library on a lovely, even floor with nothing moving. But no, our peppy instructor decided to have the class outdoors. On the grass under a Maple tree with low-hanging branches.

I snagged a spot at the back behind the bodies that looked like I did 50 years ago. The Maple caressed me as the wind favored her, showering tiny bugs and bits of withered leaf on my back. I moved my mat out of her reach. Madam Tree would have none of it and had other surprises in store.

I tried to go into my tree pose to discover that a significant root shared my spot. One foot was in a depression, at least three inches lower than the other. I fought to get my tree into shape. My working leg was at my ankle, my calf, above my knee; I was going to make it.

In my peripheral vision, one of the twenty-year-old bodies was also having a hard time. She wiggled and waggled, to one side then the other. She flapped her arms to try and catch her balance, furiously waving her working leg as she tried to secure her tree.

I gave up.

A long-drawn-out Savasana, that tedious exercise at the end of your yoga practice, where you lie on your back, arms stretched out next to your body hands palms up, is required for this class. It was time to get comfortable and relax.

I imagined that big root from the Maple tree that had ruined my tree pose as a hard foam roller and fitted myself onto the sucker. I massaged my back, side to side, lifted first one foot, then the other, and tried a Dead Bug.

Not the way Savasana should be, but Savasana and I are not friends—an excellent time to make shopping lists.

So, after all this, not having had a wonderful relaxing, enervating yoga experience, I arrived back at Summer Cottage a tad out of sorts.

The Fall

It was time to take Peanut for his mid-afternoon pee. Still muttering about my failed yoga class, I tucked him under my right arm and grabbed the rail with my left hand. I put my right foot on the top step, counted steps two and three, and then nothing.

I’d launched. Sideways. And down.

The top edge is where I hit the dock—author’s photo.

The strange thing is that in that split second, I put the little dog on the ground. Before I let go and thudded into the dock wall with my total weight. How is that even possible!

I must’ve created a supersonic boom as my husband and a nearby dock hand appeared in record time. It was “What did you — ” from hubby and “Are you okay?” from the sweet twenty-something working there for the summer.

I could assure them that I was just dandy, thank you. I got up and checked on my dog, sitting where I’d put him. I assumed my head was there as I was talking. A quick glimpse up and down the body confirmed all body parts accounted for. No damage apart from scraped knees and toes.

Until I straightened all the way and promptly doubled over again. In the way these things go, after gently dropping Peanut on the dock, I’d flung out my right arm. I’d caught the edge of the dock wall across my right boob and below the armpit. Had my arm been down, I would’ve broken something.

As it was, I had done some significant internal bruising, and it hurt like hell. I stood bent over, the only way I could breathe, and waited for the pain and shock to settle.

There was no way in hell I wanted my husband near me. Not to help. Not to ask if I was okay. And not, please God, to reiterate, “I told you, you have to look where you’re going.” Because, so help me, wounded or not, I would not have been responsible for my actions: temporary insanity and all that.

I waited until I felt less dizzy, picked up my dog, and continued with our walk. I wondered why my right foot was stuck to my sandal. An investigation showed I was walking in a puddle of blood. I went to the Ladies, got wet paper, and washed off every scrap of blood I could find. Where I’d manage to relieve myself of some skin, I whimpered a little and cleaned it up.

I was so used to counting three steps when I didn’t use the top step. Then, when I did start using it, I still counted three and expected to be on the ground next. I’ve always been terrified of falling as I aged, and now I’m paranoid.

I still hurt badly and can only take a full breath if I bend over and touch my toes. Thank you, Lord, that I can still do that. I’m also reminded that in that wild and wonderful way, our bodies are put together, the injured spot finds pain buddies in strange places.

But there must be someone I can blame for the whole fiasco. Even better, is there someone I can sue?

Ida Adams believes in living the Three L’s. Loving, Laughing, and Learning. She writes about Aging, Life, Faith, and anything else she cares to share in this messy life journey of hers.