A Polar Plunge

The day after Thanksgiving Barrett begged me to go on a walk with him. I wanted to sit on my tuft and work on homework, but the realization dawned on me that very soon Barrett may not want to hang out with me so I got up and went on the walk. Just Barrett, Linus the dog and myself.

Barrett said he wanted to take me back to where he and Linus like to walk back by the glacier stream dyke. This rapid and large stream is runoff from a glacier that flows down to the ocean near our home. During the winter months it freezes up making it an great place to let a dog run.

I noticed that not all of the water was frozen yet, which isn’t surprising since it’s rained more than it’s snowed. Barrett led me to a gravel bed that he said him and Linus walk through. The wind picked up so I tucked my head into my jacket and stared at the ground. I looked up to see Linus running on to some ice. He froze.

“Linus! Come!”

He hunkered down like he does when he’s in trouble and SPLOOSH! The ice broke underneath him and he plunged into the water. I ran toward him and stopped before the ice. Barrett kept running. I grabbed him by the jacket and pulled him back.

We called Linus’ name as he paddled around in circles but he was unable to pull himself back on to the ice. He turned away from us and began swimming toward the dyke breaking through the thin ice as he went. Barrett and I were both hoping he would swim toward the rocks and climb up, but the stream bed was too deep. He couldn’t get up. He turned and swam toward us again.

Barrett had the idea of running over to the other side of the dyke and climbing down on to the rocks, coaxing him over and then pulling Linus out. I agreed and Barrett took off. I yelled at him to stay off the ice. I tracked where Barrett was to where he was headed and immediately felt it would take to long. Linus was already whimpering and whining. I threw my gloves and Barrett’s gloves on to the ground and crawled out on to the ice. I could see the ice was dense where I started but it slowly became more transparent so I laid flat on my stomach. Inching my way out farther on to the ice I started calling him to me. He swam franticly in my direction. I reached my arm out and grabbed a hold of his collar and with super human strength I pulled him up and out of the water from a lying down position. This 80 pound wet pup hunkered down on top of me as I scooted back to the gravel bed. The moment we returned to a safe spot Linus jumped off of me and shook the water off repeatedly. Barrett still hadn’t made it to the other side.

From a distance I yelled for Barrett and told him we needed to go home now. It was 25 degrees outside, the wind was blowing and I was soaking wet. I fell once on the way out of the stream in the gravel bed and injured my knee. Not bad, but a large goose egg formed. As we scurried home I told Barrett he was never to return to the stream without Scott or I again. I was quick to process what could have happened if I had not gone with him on the walk. It makes me sick to think about. Barrett was not so quick to process what could have happened because his comment to me was, “Well, you probably burned a lot of calories mom.” At which I replied, “Possibly, but when I get home I intend to stress eat the rest of the pumpkin pie.”

When we returned home Barrett towel dried Linus off and I stripped my wet clothes off. I was covered in dirt. My coat, pants and boots were dirty, wet and frozen. It was possibly the longest it’s ever taken me to undress. I left my stuff in a pile by the door and walked back to the bathroom still out of breath. Scott had woken up from his sleep (he was on nightshift) and was in the bathroom. When I walked in his eyes widened and asked, “What the hell happened!” My legs were the color of apples. I told him the story as he took me to bed and snuggled me until I was warm. I tried laying down but got sick to my stomach. I had to work my way down to a lying position slowly. I recovered nicely but couldn’t shake the thoughts of what if. I made a point to stress to Barrett the seriousness of him not going back to the stream and spoke to him about the proper way to walk out on to ice if in fact something similar happened again. He seemed too nonchalant for my tastes.

The next day we were driving home together in the truck. It was quiet and we were both lost in our own thoughts when he burst out crying. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He was finally processing the event and the possible outcomes. Well, now I feel better knowing he’s learned a life lesson. I’m grateful we are all safe, including the dog.