Success! Christian, age 9, becomes an official water skier.
Remember the heat wave we had a couple of summers ago? The one that broke all the records? It was that July that my brother-in-law Lee rented a huge house at the lake and invited the family. And by family, I mean there were 24 of us there for the week, including a fiancée we were meeting for the very first time and a Spanish foreign exchange student who was just starting to learn English. And by huge house, I mean it had everything – nine bedrooms, six bathrooms, a billiards room, lots of electronic entertainment, kayaks, bikes, a boat and skis. We crossed the threshold awestruck, so just imagine our surprise when we went to crank the A/C and couldn’t find the thermostat.
We tried to enjoy everything the property had to offer, but with daily temperatures hovering around 100 degrees and no air conditioning in the house, we took to the water pretty quickly. The skilled skiers went first, and then we showed the others the basics. Some of us stayed in the water with the new skiers, and between the boat, the water and the dock, we were all out there – all except the three who had contracted food poisoning the day before from some bad pastrami at the sandwich shop. Those three were at the house in front of an oscillating fan, but still, it was quite a stage for a nine-year-old learning something new.
On the first try, Lee pulled his son Christian too slowly; he sank, lost both his skis, and was dragged by the boat for a good 25 yards. Predictably, on the second try, Lee gunned it, Christian flew forward and this time he was dragged right out of his swimsuit. Bottoms up! No matter how much we yelled, Christian just seemed to have a philosophical objection to letting go of the rope, and after that epic ordeal, he took a break to regroup and redress.
Up next was younger sister Gracie, who has a lower BMI than my neighbor’s whippet. When we told her to keep her tips up and together, she fell backward. When we told her to sit on her skis and let the boat pull her up, she fell forward. Every time she fell, we would swim over to her, give her instructions and encouragement, and send her on her way again. Within the hour, she was skiing all over the cove, and by the end of the week, everyone, including Christian, and even the Spaniard, could ski.
Some vacations are special because everyone gets to do his or her own thing, but this vacation was special because everyone did the same thing. We were able to witness each other’s milestones that week; the family became closer, the fiancée fit in beautifully, the kids developed new skills and Christian, aka “Buck,” earned a nickname. Even at 100 degrees, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Go jump in the lake! You can rent homes on Smith Mountain Lake and Claytor Lake through Vacation Rentals by Owner at vrbo.org. And just in case you end up with a foreign exchange student on your trip, “Suelta la cuerda!” is “Release the rope!” in Spanish.