BEGINNING WHAT WOULD be the first of two portages through downtown Green Lake are, from left, Laura Lyke, Adele Parks and Ariana Hones. Tim Lyke photo
by Ariana Hones
“I am pretty sure if we go over that dam we are not going to make it home.”
I am standing on the edge of the Puchyan River in coarse, sun-withered grass.
Two of my friends, Laura Lyke and Adele Parks, are in the canoe.
I was sent to investigate the “dam situation.” Meaning that as we paddled along the river looking for our fellow kayak and canoe excursion-goers, we had come across a rather intimating sign in hazard yellow:
“That doesn’t look right,” I said suspiciously.
They agreed and after much wrangling we made our way to a collapsed dock on the edge of the river and I clambered out to scope out any potential danger.
That is why for all people traveling on North Lawson Drive that simmering Saturday morning, they would have seen me clad only in a bathing suit racing down the asphalt road on bare feet to see if the dam would indeed cause our untimely ends.
As I returned, not so graciously back into the canoe, I thought not about the dam, but about a series of novels I had read as a child.
“The Series of Unfortunate Events,” by Lemony Snicket.
A series that often left my heart saddened for the orphaned Baudelaire children, I once again found myself heavily sympathizing with their plight.
Today had simply not gone as planned. It began with Adele and I arriving late.
We were suppose to meet at Laura’s house at 8 a.m. sharp in order to get the canoe in the water and to the creek behind the tennis courts off of Mill Street in Green Lake.
We were going to meet with fellow water enthusiasts to take a leisurely paddle down the Puchyan.
I felt especially fortunate because this outing had been rescheduled for a Saturday that both of my friends and I were free to go.
We would be take the speed boat to the marina, towing the canoe by hand and then portage the boat through downtown and — fingers crossed — arrive on time.
However, Adele and I were tardy. Which is how we found ourselves floundering in the waters of the Green Lake Marina, our canoe capsized after being pulled too fast behind the boat.
Slowly, Laura and I swam the canoe to a nearby dock, while Adele dragged our life jackets and paddles through the water.
After 20 minutes of bailing out water and dragging the canoe onto shore, we were ready to get back in.
Although Adele and I struggled to get our initial paddling rhythm down, we soon met our stride and made it to shore. We then portaged the boat, albeit a little shamefully, through downtown Green Lake to the meeting spot.
No one was there.
“We will meet up with them,” Adele chimed in hopefully.
We already had shown up late, flipped our canoe, embarrassed ourselves through downtown and missed the start of the excursion.
What else could go wrong?
This is why, after nearly escaping injury by rapids, I thought of the Baudelaire children.
Those poor kids.
As we made our way back, against the current, I tried to not consider how hungry I was or the biting mystery bugs. I tried not to think of how it was we missed the group or how we would need to portage back through downtown.
I just thought of how those children had it worse — 13 books worth of tragedy.
By the time we made it back to the river bend behind the tennis courts we were ready for the day to be done.
Barefoot, we trekked past smug onlookers as they called out “Isn’t that suppose to go in the water?”
We laughed. Then continued our trudge.
Some men stopped to tell us about their experience watching us try to upright our canoe hours before.
“We are real comedians,” I assured them wryly.
Since it seemed we had already lost so much of our dignity, we decided to walk the canoe back to Laura’s home two miles from downtown.
The sad saga continued as we marched.
Shoulders aching and blisters just starting to form, Tim Lyke, our gracious hero, finally approached us in a car.
We were saved.
All was well.
And the kayak and canoe excursion? What became of those fellow community members who we never paddled into?
The event had taken place the Saturday before.
I had read the wrong date in the newspaper.
Baudelaire children, move on over.