Every eleven year old boy who grew up in my world had a couple of great swimming holes to visit. Some were used for cooling off, others for cannonball contests. And some were simply used for swimming.
The days in late August were growing shorter and night temperatures were dipping into the forties. I was running out of days warm enough to enjoy those swimming holes.
However, there was one great place I liked to visit on chilly mornings.
I dragged an old tire tube from the back of the garage, boosted it with some air, and headed out through the lingering fog with my dog Mutt trotting along.
I push-rolled the old rubber tube in front of me by slapping my towel over it. The old tube kicked up pretty high as it bounced over a large protruding rock in the road.
It got away from me, made a sharp left turn, and rolled into a swamp.
There it was, perfectly floating in a black mess of mossy, marshy mud. Mutt turned her head and gave me a look as if she was asking if this was my intended swimming hole.
Like any kid my age, I decided to see if I could mount the tube and balance myself over the swampy mess.
I hopped on a small rock in a grass-covered clump surrounding the swamp to survey the situation.
Mutt, the wonder dog of mud, was investigating her own ways of getting into this swampy mess.
When she finally took charge and waded in up to her chest I could see how thick and black it actually was.
I scrounged around and found a good long stick to plunge into the swamp to help move myself along. If nothing else I could use it to retrieve my tube.
Before long I was on the tube, slowly moving along Tom Sawyer-style. Balancing seemed pretty easy as the surface was thicker than pure water.
Mutt had already reached dry ground and barked at me encouragingly to follow her lead.
Then, as if in slow motion, one foot plunged through the center of the tube and deep down into the mud. All of the sudden I was waist-deep in muck.
As I tried to loosen my body from the mess I realized I had lost a shoe. It took a good half hour to free myself, my shoe, and my inner tube from this impractical swimming hole.
Mutt and I must have looked pretty odd as we made a bee line to Limekiln Lake beach through people’s properties and private driveways.
It took a good deal of swimming to get all that good mud off of our bodies.