domanblue (domanblue) wrote,

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Lately, I have found myself checking the size of several large puddles during my commute home each day. When they get bigger I seem to get excited and feel a loss when they shrink. We’ve had flooding problems so one would think I would prefer less rather than more standing water in the nearby fields. Then one day it hit me. I was reliving the excitement I felt after a big rain when I was much younger.

Where I grew up, the ground was mostly flat and mostly clay. When it rained, the water in the streets ran down the drain. But the water in the nearby fields would collect in low spots and stay for days perhaps weeks.

Kids are always resourceful when it comes to entertaining themselves. No matter where you’re from, leave it to the local kids to make the most of it. Bill Cosby did a comedy bit about the kids in his neighborhood making soap box racers from things found nearby (adventures of “Dead Man’s Hill”).

So we had puddles. What do you do with large puddles? Well you sail them of course.

Now we’re not talking deep water here. So we set about constructing extreme “shallow draft” rafts. The key was to find anything (and I do mean anything) that could float and be nailed or wired together. Metal gallon cans, styrofoam, wood, …
I even remember one made of plastic jugs. No nails there, least ye spring a leak. Of course, you’ll need a big long stick to push your raft along. Not too thin or you’ll find yourself clinging to a real live “stick in the mud”.

Unlucky mariners might have their craft break apart in mid puddle. These unfortunates would endure muddy shoes and perhaps eight inches of water up their pant leg as they made their way back to shore under the laughter of all those present. But not all was lost. Dismembered craft made excellent jetties.

All the nearby neighborhoods were plagued with the same spotty growth as our own. Being adventurous lads, we would often find reason to follow the train tracks or drainage ditches to these places. New puddle/lakes would sport their own watercraft with local solutions for floatability. Sadly abandoned by kids that had to be home by four. Of course, we would help ourselves to a sail across these foreign waters.

Eventually hot weather spelled the end of our rafts. By May or June, all that is left are a few boards scattered about by tractors plowing fire lines through the rising grass.
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