By Samantha Hyde
I remember clearly those few seconds that I hung in the air, steam curling off my skin as I flew toward the icy water of AerobusLake. Around me were the gleeful shrieks of other kids as they surfaced, gasping and laughing. Then splash and I was wrapped in that shocking water, every nerve screaming in chorus. I stretched my arms forward, looking to the shoreline with its skinny forms that flapped their arms and checked for leeches speedier than they.
“From November 2-11, adults in central Indiana will get to revisit the realm of childhood and appreciate the joy of play through memories, games and laughter.”
It was a small fishing camp, accessible only by boat and home to a rotating cast of families, male-bonding troupes and the occasional serious fisherman. Kids roamed the peninsula in the evenings, playing tetherball or swimming off docks that stuck like spurs from the knob of land. Boredom was unheard of since the camp’s owners had had the brilliant idea of building a rustic sauna at the base of the longest dock.
Every evening we donned swim suits, dipped washcloths in a nearby water barrel and slipped into the oven, where a wood-burning stove heated a tub of smooth lake rocks the size of softballs. We took turns ladling water over the burning rocks, wrapping ourselves in steam as the fire sizzled and popped. When our washcloths no longer stopped the heat from searing our lungs, we erupted en mass from the sauna and sped down the dock, flinging our overheated bodies into the cold Canadian lake water. Then it was back to the shore, a quick check for leeches and stragglers, and into the wood shack for another round.
“That is one of the gifts of youth, being able to play in fearless and foolish ways without the burden of embarrassment or the awareness of adulthood.”
I suppose that adults sat with coffee by the shoreline, shaking their heads at the lunacy that often accompanies youth. Though I remember the water, the heat and the leeches well, I do not recall the quiet presence of onlookers. That is one of the gifts of youth, being able to play in fearless and foolish ways without the burden of embarrassment or the awareness of adulthood.
Just revisiting those late summer nights brings a smile to my face, a lighter spring to my step. In its 17th season I am grateful Spirit & Place has chosen “play” as its newest theme. From November 2-11, adults in central Indiana will get to revisit the realm of childhood and appreciate the joy of play through memories, games and laughter. I’ll be there, in an “Aerobus state of mind.” Will you?