March 21, 2010
Maybe it’s because I have more days behind me than I probably do in front of me that causes me to spend a fair amount of time reminiscing. For some reason my memories of moments in the late 60’s and early 70’s seem sharper than my memory of what I had for breakfast today. Maybe it’s simply human nature to continually review what we have done in our past so we can gauge how well our life has been lived. I don’t know, but whatever the reason, I started thinking back to the Springtimes of my youth
I looked back to my childhood when we all looked forward to the ditches and sloughs filling with melting snow runoff so we could enjoy one of our favourite seasons of the year…rafting season.
In the late 60’s, when our family lived in the little hamlet of Marquis, Saskatchewan, we had a great rafting spot near the elevators where the ditches were deep and stretched the whole length of town. We’d spend hours making our rafts out of fence boards and scrap wood that we’d find near the elevators. Then we’d spend many more hours sailing the rafts, being pirates or our own version of the Kon Tiki Expedition.
The Kon Tiki expedition was when, in 1947, a Norwegian named Thor Heyerdahl sailed a raft from South America to the Polynesian Islands just to prove that the South Americans could have populated the islands in pre-Columbian times; however, I digress, that’s a story for another time.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the rafting spots here in Kipling were at the “willows”, where Rudyard Manor now stands, and there was a little pond along the railroad tracks, just north of the highway across from the liquor store and Joe Kovach’s Garage, that was pretty good, too.
But the big enchilada was when “The Marsh” would fill up. Some of you will remember “The Marsh”. “The Marsh” was located just north of town and in the 70’s it was huge! You could raft for hours and never cross the same spot.
There were always hazards while you were rafting, though. The water was never too deep that there was a serious danger to drowning but the rubber bootfulls of icy cold water or the chance of hypothermia, if you ever fell in, were always present.
I don’t know why getting a boot full of water seemed like the biggest crime of the century to our mothers, though. Maybe it’s because it just made more laundry for her to do or something. Maybe it was because you did something that she forbade you to do. Because you know that the last thing she would have said to you as you were going out the door was, “Be careful, and try not to get your boots full of water again!”
In recent years it seems that there hasn’t really been enough runoff for good ol’ rafting. How many current parents would even allow their 10, 11 or 12 year olds to go rafting if they could anyway? I’m not sure, but I know they’re missing one of the great adventures of their lives if they don’t.
“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush,”-Doug Larson.