Occasionally in the course of my rounds I travel to the lake intake at the water treatment plant where I work.   The treatment plant is supplied from either water pumped out of a lake, or fed from gravity flow directly out of a river rushing down from the Cascades. 

The intake structure is a concrete anchored, safety yellowed mass, with see-through steel grating that fosters the illusion of floating over the water’s surface.  The lake is entirely surrounded by pine forest, which gives voice to every breeze that happens along.


This particular day, the last time I went, was sunny and warm, but a polite warm not the mean heat of high Midwestern summer that I’ve come to expect in August.  I paused and listened to the pines, looking south toward Rainier but it was mostly obscured by low lying clouds, with only portions of its snowy base showing.  The gentle lap of friendly lake waves suddenly caught my memory and took me back to a different sunny day, time immemorial and youth and a skinny kid at Blaisdell pool, the first (and only) three meter board I dared.  I remember jumping from that tall spot, no form or style just gravity assisted towards the bottom, and my shorts coming mostly off and my struggling to put them back on underwater and the youthful panic of embarrassment and shame passing through my head as I repantsed, then the struggle for breath until I came up and swam blindly for the side, reddened and gasping, realizing no one had noticed, and then instantly feeling that was worse, accompanied by the gentle lapping waves at the side of the pool.


All rushed through my brain mash out there on the lake, again, thirty years later seemingly from no-where, circuits must have been full trying to remember new little wave lapping sounds.

Absorbing the moment, I stopped and drifted a little further, still in Gage Park but now to a terrific Flintstone Park of wooden cars and a giant roller slide of rough-timbered logs.  It was huge, to a boy, and retrospectively crazy – we rode that thing?! But kids might get pinched/slivered/crushed/boned.  Nary a helmet, either, in memory, except the kid in the neighborhood that had to wear one outside, and his mom put a giant orange flag eleventy feet high on the back of his bike.  He was ‘different’, don’t know how, now, but we sure saw him coming.

The Shawnee County Parks Legal Dept. must have scrubbed the interweb of all evidence, all google could find was this innocent picture.  No doubt there are maimed folks now entering their forties, with splintered eyes and smooshed arms, legions of lawyers scouring the web for a deposition next week.


 Terrified Hostages





And then I turned around, walked to the truck, and took my samples back for analysis.