Herald and Journal, August 27, 2001

The bright side of the hot weather


The only good thing about our recent killer hot spell is that it drove us away from the farm and out to Lake Waverly for a swim.

As a kid I spent many happy hours at the lake, and I love to be in the water.

No doubt my mother is responsible for that. Mother was born and raised in Wayzata. As a young woman she would walk down to the public beach for a swim.

Her mother didn't know how to swim, but she would stand on the dock waving and calling out, "Madge! Madge! Not so far out, Madge!" It didn't matter that my mother was an excellent swimmer.

That's probably why my mother was so determined that her children would learn to swim, too. Five days a week for several summers, she made the trek with us to the local beach for swimming lessons. As we got older we would walk to the beach or ride our bikes alone.

We would swim before, during, and after our lessons. We spent so much time in the water that we would each wear out two swim suits a year.

Who worried about sunscreen back then? We compared to see who had the darkest tan while our hair bleached out to a streaky blond.

The best part about having Lake Minnetonka nearby was the games we played in the water. "Let's see who can do the most somersaults in the water!" one of us would call out.

We would pitch ourselves forward in the water, spinning around again and again until we ran out of breath.

Of course, this would be followed by the backward somersault competition. I get dizzy just thinking about it now, but it was fun back then.

"Hey, let's see who can swim the farthest underwater!" someone would yell, and the challenge would have to be met.

"I bet I can hold my breath underwater the longest!" was another irresistible challenge.

We also vied for "best hand stand in the water," and the "longest hand stand in the water," title. Other endurance contests were conducted to see who could float on their back longest or tread water the longest.

We had a great time. We'd even duck under the water and take turns singing in an underwater version of "Name That Tune." "We" included me, my brother Sid, and our friends David, Joyce, and Kip.

If we got cold or tired, we would crawl out of the lake and lie on the dock for a while. When we got tired of lying still, or it was just too hot in the sun, we would plunge back into the cool water again.

This year our "swimming hole" was Lake Waverly. Tom and I bought a cabin on the east side of the lake last December.

We haven't spent as much time at the lake as we wanted to, but we sure enjoyed being in the water on those unbearably hot days.

Of course, I'm not doing any underwater handstands these days. Attempting a backwards somersault would, no doubt, send me to the chiropractor.

I know I'm considerably more buoyant than I was back then. You might say that floating has gotten a whole lot easier.

Hey, Tom, let's see who can float the longest!

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