One of the best things about summer where we live is the chance to go swimming in the Ottawa River. Recently, on a very warm morning, we cycled to Westboro beach after breakfast and I swam from there in the designated swimming area, while Chris sat under a tree with three friendly ducks at his feet.
Last weekend with other friends we visited Francine and Roger at their house in Wendover which skirts the water, further downstream, to the east of Rockland. Their wide and grassy lawn slopes right down to the shore and they have a boat that seats about a dozen people. Roger took nine of us for a ride on it after we had smeared enough sunblock over our exposed skin and after Carol and Francine had made some emergency sewing repairs to Chris' swimming trunks (during which process I stayed well clear). Roger made for a quiet part of the river the far side of a long island, turning into wind, and then Tracey, Carol and I got off the boat into the water and swam around in it for ages. Once he had finished complaining that the water was "too cold", Chris stepped backwards off the ladder at the stern and joined in. There was a shallow area over a spit of sand at the end of the island where we could wade around or jump into the waves from other watercraft passing by. Great fun, except that Roger drew up too close and got his boat stuck in the sand. It took some help from another boatload of people (three muscular young men) to push her out and get her floating again.
Roger has a float plane tethered at his home dock as well, but he didn't use it, this time.
We all had good appetites for the shared supper.
Other people have been in other water. The whole world has been watching the long drawn-out display of selfless heroism, humility and international co-operation in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave rescue in Thailand, when suddenly, because it was so imaginable, everyone became emotionally involved in the fate of a few foreign children in trouble and the people trying to help them. For a while it looked as if the mission might end tragically and, for one man, it did. I was not the only one who lay awake worrying about them; it seems that millions of us did the same.
Then, right across the world, there was relief and joy when the news came that all the rest were safe after their 18 days in acute danger. The last man to out was Richard Harris, the Australian doctor who had kept the children calm and as healthy as possible during their final week in the cave: "Many have called for him to be made Australian of the Year." (BBC) The cave divers from England, who volunteered to risk their lives to help, made me feel proud to be British, and I felt overawed watching the video footage of them struggling along through the pools of water in the caves; I noticed small fish swimming past in the other direction. I was touched to read about the boys' Buddhist coach, Ekapol Chantawong, 25, said to be the weakest of the group when they were found, who had reportedly refused to eat any of the food and gave it instead to the boys, and about Adul, the 14-year old who acted as interpreter for the British divers and had the gumption to ask the rescuers, "What day is it?"
"Stateless children have a fighting spirit that makes them want to excel, Adul is the best of the best.” reported the Sydney Morning Herald. Adul is top of his class at school. His parents brought him across the border from Myanmar 8 years ago. He has no citizenship papers.
This whole symbolic story has reminded us that we're all connected: a very important lesson indeed!