The captain stands firmly at the helm, and we face the storm head-on. For days we have tossed about as the ocean’s fury ravaged our ship . In the distance, a sliver of dawn gives us hope that we have survived yet another day of peril on the sea. Hours later, the weary captain turns the wheel over to the first mate and goes below for some much-needed rest. I look at my cousins, and tired of this adventure, we jump into the water and splash around for a while, before climbing back onto The Dock for our next maritime adventure. Sometimes we traveled around the world in 80 days, fighting off sharks and whales. We even saw Moby Dick once. Other times, we were the crew of luxurious ocean liners, catering to famous movie stars. We journeyed down the Nile, being careful to avoid the alligators, we navigated the Colorado River rapids, and nearly froze while traveling the Outside Passage of Alaska. We were captains of shrimp boats in the gulf, or rich passengers aboard a paddlewheel on the Mississippi. Sometimes we were famous skiers being pulled behind huge power boats. Other times we simply sat on The Dock and waited for our handsome husbands to return home from building the mansion just across the cove, which of course they were building for us, their beautiful wives, with only the finest of materials and all the latest luxuries. Of course, we had to "drive" the ski boat across the cove each day to carry them food and drink while they labored in the sun. Then there was the time that we were stranded on a deserted island, and The Dock was our life raft, built so carefully with our bare hands from palm fronds and jungle vines. We lived for weeks on nothing but coconut milk and pit-roasted fish, crabs and clams. Oh, The Places We Have Been!!
Then at the end of the day, tired and dirty, we would grab a bar of soap and hop in the lake for a quick bath. After dinner, upstairs we would go to engage in some serious board-game play before falling into bed. Lying still in the bed, it still felt like we were bobbing up and down on the waves. But sometimes, Aunt Joyce and Uncle Gene would let us venture down to The Dock at dusk, or even after dark. Then we were Navy SEALS, or James Bond, wearing black rubber suits, fighting evil to rescue the nuclear codes that had been stolen by the Russians, or rescuing hostages from underwater caves. Oh, The Adventures We Have Had!!
Ahhhh… these are some of my favorite childhood memories- the summer weeks that my cousins Sharon, Jeff, and I would spend At The Lake. We had no video games, no ipods, no cell phones, no computer games. Just a few cartoons on Saturday morning. But Saturday morning would find us not in front of the tube, but back at The Dock, errr.. our SHIP, jumping off into the blue oceans in faraway places to swim with the dolphins...
How sad is it that most kids today will never have those priceless experiences- those created from the depths of our imaginations and our sense of make-believe. I’d choose a voyage around the world with my fearless Captain Jeff and my crew-mate Sharon any day over an X-Box or MTV. Wouldn’t you?