Thursday, September 1, 2011


All the recent hurricane coverage with the ocean shots took me back to a time when a sneaky and treacherous ocean sought to prematurely age my parents.

I was almost 10 and we were heading for Key West once again. We stopped off in Jacksonville Florida to visit my uncle and to take in a bit of beach time. We had missed a tropical storm by a few days and the ocean had a pretty good chop which excited us kids.

I knew how to lake-swim quite well but because of the rough seas, my brother and I weren't allowed to go in over our knees. I don't know if you are familiar with rip currents or what we used to call rip tides.

They are narrow, fast-moving belts of water traveling off shore towards the deeper waters. The currents are so strong that they can pull grown ups off their feet. What is deceptive about them is that the water appears smooth and calm in the trough. People can drown in these by fighting the currents till exhausted as  they are strong enough to defeat even Michael Phelps. Often they drag non-swimmers into deep water. These are serious quirks of nature.

I was walking parallel to the shore in my allowed knee high depth when suddenly my feet were just snapped from under me and I zoomed out to sea. At first my back side bounced roughly along the bottom then just as quickly, I was suspended in a gritty fast moving current.

I was too startled to be frightened as I flew through the water out to sea. Just as quickly, the current quit and when I looked to shore I found I was quite a way from the beach.  People on shore seemed small and barely recognizable but I could hear screams and saw lots of arm waving.

Swim to your right.” came an instruction via bull horn. Being an obedient child, I did just that when I noticed some one coming towards me on a surf board. Goodness, it was that cute life guard (Ok, have you ever seen a homely lifeguard?) He pulled me out of the water on to the board with him and I was instantly smitten. Yes, I did mature early.

Too quickly he paddled us back to shore where my parents smothered me in embraces which embarrassed me a lot. Mom was crying and Dad just looked pale. I mean, why? I had a few scratches but was Ok.

Then I stunned them with one sentence.

Can I do it again?” I asked in all sincerity for that was one heck of a ride. Gritty but fun and the ride back was really cool.

Tiredly Mom looked at Dad and said with a tiny smile, “You are going to have to kill her Ray, I am just too drained.” Then my whole family burst out laughing in relief. Though I didn't get the joke I was pretty sure a rerun was not in my future.

It was later that I learned that what had happened was dangerous and could have been tragic. However, the expression “can I do it again,” became a standard taunt in the future when I did or wanted to do something not too bright.

Kids really are responsible for all the gray hair in this world.


  1. I've head of rip tides but never been in one and hope never to either. So glad you are ok. Gary was a surfer and I am sure he has experienced one or two.

  2. My favorite rip tide moment was in the movie, "10", when Bo Derek's new husband got carried out to sea and Dudley Moore got to spend the night with her.

    See? Not all rip tides are bad!

  3. I hear if you don't panic you will be okay. You proved that to be true.

  4. I've heard about rip tides for years but have never felt one. What an experience! Glad your parents made it though.

  5. I was caught in one when I was a girl. It changed my attitude toward swimming in the ocean completely.
    Let's just say I never asked Santa for a surfboard.

  6. Geeez....a scary moment for a parent. I've heard of rip tides, but never heard of anyone who actually experienced one.

  7. What a great story, since it had such a good ending. I've never experienced a rip tide, but I've certainly heard of them. You told the story well, I felt like I was right there next to your mom!

  8. everything is gonna be okay, mom !

  9. Growing up on Jupiter Island i Florida all i can say is....."Been there....done that..!!' iT IS QUITE A RIDE..!!


  10. Fortunately this adventure had a happy ending, but how dangerous it must have been. The sea is treacherous and unreliable.

  11. We mortals forget that Mother Nature has some very dangerous tricks up her sleeve...or in your case...who knew, right? What's a little knee high water among friends??? Geeez, glad you had the ride that ended well.

    Yep, I do understand the grey hair thing with perhaps a younger version of you in our "Danger Jane" girl, GK.

    Thanks for yet another expertly crafted story of your life. I love your storytelling style.

    Oma Linda

  12. I'm afraid an experience like that would keep me out of the ocean forever, Patti.

  13. Great story. Glad you lived to tell the tale. I love the ocean -- to look at -- but am not comfortable going into it. I've never been in salt-water over ankle-deep.

    It's a good thing, I think, that your mother was drained! :)

  14. Great story and I do think all the lifeguards are cute. It must be a requirement. :D I remember seeing riptide warnings posted along the beach near Galveston, TX once when I was visiting my brother and him giving me a stern warning about them because I'm sure he could just visualize me not paying attention and wading into the water if I had the chance. And I was an adult at the time! Ha.

  15. Now you know why my hair is white. I think back on the things I did that were "fun" and could have killed me and am amazed I am alive. They say the good die young. Where does that put you and me? Dianne

  16. "Can I do it again?" I ABSOLUTELY love that question!

  17. Well Patti, leave it to you to want to do it again. My grandson nearly drowned at Tybee Island a few years ago in a rip tide, he was 7. Yes, it aged me also! XO

  18. No question that children cause grey hair. And, it is amazing that so many children survive childhood in one piece. Glad that you came out of it with just a good story.

  19. Living in Utah, I don't have much experience with the ocean, but I have heard of rip tides. I'm glad it worked out and you are safe. I hope your family didn't give you too much grief.

  20. Oh --your story brings back memories of the years we lived on the gulf shore in Venice, FL. All three of my sons were LITTLE. Taking them to the beach was fun for them--but I was a basket case (just watching them). Luckily, we never had any trouble--but those currents can be tricky!!!!


  21. I can imagine you've said the words "can I do it again?" a great many times over the years, and probably still do! I get the impression that you'll have a go at most things!

    My kids have definitely given me grey hairs!

    Great story!

  22. We were just talking about rip tides last night. I've never experienced one since I've never been in the ocean but I definitely respect the power of the ocean. Glad your story had a happy ending.

  23. I know our family doctor once told me, I've earned every grey/white hair on my head, raising five kids. LOL

  24. Funny but not so funny...and you are right about the gray hair. :) blessings, marlene

  25. What a great story! I remember reading once that the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens had an experience like that as an adult. As he swam parallel to the beach, he made a promise to god that he would devote his life, if he were spared. And that's how he became Yusuf Islam.

  26. Linda Starr,
    If Gary was a surfer, he probably road out on one. That would be the way to do it.

    "10" was a guy flick and I never saw it. Maybe I will check it out.

    Panic is what causes a lot of drownings. Luckily for me, ignorance was bliss.

    Just look for the calm water and stay away. They were torn between throttling me and hugging me to death.

    Evidently yours was not a good ride. So sorry.

    They are what keep the lifeguards busy in Florida.

    Good thing you weren't there with Mom, she would have deafened you with her screams. She had a set of lungs.

    Fadhil Anwar
    You are so right.

    Blue Ridge Boomer,
    I used to work in Jupiter in the S&L. Might have seen you. That town has grown soooo much.

    Reader Wil,
    My having no idea what was going on most likely saved me. I do respect the ocean.

    Linda in NM
    Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed. Hope Danger Jane doesn't give you too many gray hairs.

    That didn't but years later "Jaws" did.

    She was ready to kill me while wanting to hug me. That is being torn.

    They all are aren't they. Hey, they will take an adult down just as quickly. Don't fight it.

    Ha, I guess we are on borrowed time cause I know we are both "good". Well kind of.

    That was the phrase that did my Mom in. Hey, I really wanted to go again.

    Oh my how frightening. I am sure he and you were terrified. I am so glad you said "nearly."

    Retrospect always does soften the edges of our escapades.

    Mom of 12,
    Oh, I was teased up until I left home. Then they left me alone.

    I know the beach is such a scary place for the parents. Kids just have a ball.

    LLCool Joe,
    Ha, you are right Joey. If it doesn't hurt, I am game.

    The ocean just needs to be treated with respect. Hope you someday get your feet wet.

    Well they look good on you so don't be hard on them.

    We all thought it was funny---later.

    Did not know that about Cat Stevens. I loved "Peace Train" and "Morning has Broken". He did just right to survive and it is nice when some one makes those promises in a moment of desperation and actually follows through.

  27. Such a frightening thing these Rip Tides....I remember well, always being warned about the Ocean and it's unpredictability....You certainly were lucky Patti---And you got to meet a very handsome lifeguard, too!

    It's odd, but I never really enjoyed swimming in the Ocean....I always found it a bit of a scary place because you never knew what might happen. For "swimming", to me, there is nothing better than a HUGE Pool, or a Lake....!

    It is too bad you didn't have TCM on yesterday, my dear..They showed 13 of Dietrich's films....So, who knows when they will show some again, though I know they will, eventually---they always do....

  28. Scary! Shortly after my husband and I were married we vacationed in California. A strong undertow got me and I thought I was a goner. My husband is a strong swimmer and pulled me out, but I've never forgotten the feeling of near drowning. I wasn't afraid when it was happening, merely resigned. Oddly, I was warm and comfortable. Once my hubby dragged my sorry butt out of the water --- THEN I panicked. LOL

  29. You have more stories than anyone I know...I remember feeling the under tow in water only up to my knees, but that never happened to me - thank goodness. I never learned to swim until I was 12.

  30. Hi Patti,

    Whoa, what a great story ... the ocean can be very dangerous,that is for sure. Glad you lived to tell the tale and make us laugh about that adventure. I remember being told to swim parallel to the shore, which I what that handsome hunk of a lifeguard was most likely having you do.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to say hello the past couple of days. We are getting ready to leave for a camping trip in a bit.

    Have a great weekend,

    Kathy M.

  31. Ah, to be ten...and in "love." Great story.

  32. Yes kids and renters. hahahaha
    Living on the coast growing up this brought back a lot of memories and then I remembered my sweet grandbabies are going to the beach this weekend and I know me I will worry about them the whole time their gone.
    Those rip tides are so dangerous but I love reading about yours. hahaha Your always so entertaining.
    When my friend are you going to be my Blogazine Guest. Yep I am back haunting you again to do me a story so all my friends can meet my sweet creative Patti

  33. It sounds like your mother had a fabulous sense of humor (or an inkling of what the rest of her life with you would be like--heh!)

    Great story, as always. Love your style; you keep me coming back for more!

  34. That was good and good and scary! Wow! We don't live near the ocean and even though I'd heard of rip tides and all, I had no idea how treacherous and sneaky it could be. Sort of gives me the shivers when I think back to the time my husband and I took a rent car and went to the other side of the island when we were in Cozumel. The surf we really high, in my humble opinion, and we could hardly stand up in the waves. There were a couple of other people on that beach and no lifeguard at all. I guess God does protect fools.

    Ok...let me know how you like your Kindle. My kids gave me one for my birthday and you have probably seen how I love holding a book, the feel of books, and if I ever get a new one the smell. I try to avoid sniffing the Half Price books or library books. I'm keeping the Kindle and I gotta tell you....I was going to post about how ambivalent I am about the thing on my blog, but was worried they might see. I don't think they know where my blog is or if they would ever look at it, but well, you know. I looked at Amazon and saw they have a number of books that must have come into the public domain. Anyway, let me know if it was much of an adjustment or not.

  35. What a brilliant post vividly described. Kids never realise what they put their parents Mum recounted a tale of wandering off along the beach for miles with a friend ...she must have been well under 9 ....and when they finally returned several hours later they were surprized that so many neighbours were out on the beach surounding her weeping mother who thought they had drowned.

  36. OOLOH,
    I'm with you Naomi. The ocean really doesn't allow "swimming", just playing. I like a lake or big pool also.
    I know she will show up eventually, I'll keep my eye out for her.

    The good thing is that you didn't struggle and that you had a hubby handy. Sure glad you had a happy ending.

    Thanks. It is only because I have lived so darn long.
    Glad you didn't take the ride.

    Oregon gifts,
    Thanks. Parallel to the shore is exactly the right way. That way you will eventually get out of the trough.

    Thanks. You fall so quickly at that age. Nothing is complicate and cute is the only requirement.

    Grandma Yellow Hair,
    Keep your eyes peeled and watch those smooth areas, they are the worst.
    I'll think about it, thanks.

    RV Vagabonds,
    Mom had both. That is such a nice comment. Thank you.

    AMber Star,
    That one day taught me to only swim where there are lifeguards.
    As for Kindle, I adore mine. I felt like you about books, now I won't buy a book unless it has a Kindle version. The ease of handling, ease of obtaining, one touch dictionary, always remembers your place, the font size can be adjusted and if you get lazy, it will read to you. I have the hard copy of "The Help" sitting on my night stand and it remains unread. I just hate to pick up a book anymore. After my pets, my Kindle gets rescued in a fire.

  37. Angie,
    Oops, you came in while I was answering comments.
    Thanks so much. The story about your Mum gave me goosebumps. How terrified your grandmother must have been.

  38. Oh my that was just a very good story! And my am i glad your ok! you must have been a spunky girl even at that age!

    haha kujo's for you! i like spunky girls!

    Big hugs

  39. I've heard a lot of stories about rip tides from living over seas. I'd hate to experience one myself. I would panic. I would be in the story of the one that drowned.

    My blogger roll doesn't show me all of the posts anymore, so I miss some if I don't go looking for them...and that's what I'm doing now.
    I'm sorry about your pain...sure hope you're feeling better!!

  40. What a story. I loved your mom's response. You were a lucky girl. Not a strong swimmer so the ocean scares me. We took FL vacations most summers - my favorite was when we went all the way to the Keys.

  41. Hi Patti,

    Sorry this is off topic but I wanted to tell you that I read the book you recommended for my Kindle.

    It is called "Letters of A Woman Homesteader" and was a fascinating book.

    I enjoyed it so much and wanted to thank you for telling us about it.

  42. Leontine,
    I don't know if I am spunky or just oblivious to consequenses. Anyway, thanks.

    Panic is what kills most in those situations. Not being aware of the danger helps.
    My blog roll is guilty of the same problem.

    I Wonder Wye,
    Coming from a long line of Key Westers, I admire your taste.
    Kids actions do bring out conflicting emotions in parents. Mom had that type of humor.

    Oh, I am so glad you enjoyed the book. It was quite a look into another time.

  43. I've never been in one but I was present when we nearly lost a cousin to one. I've never forgotten the scare that he gave us.

  44. Thank you for your visit, Patti! I wish you a wonderful week!

  45. I hope you are feeling alright, my dear Patti....I will be posting the "Ladies Who Lunch" pictures, next time round---(I We DID have a good time and we all laughed a lot in spite of the bittersweetness to the whole afternoon....What can I say, Betty Was Missed!

  46. KleinsteMotte
    This would have been a different post had I not been a good swimmer.

    I am so glad your cousin survived OK. I think it is more terrifying for those who have to watch.

    Reader Wil,
    Thanks wil,

    Looking forward to the next post.

  47. Funny you ask this Patti - my best friend always reads the ending at the beginning (something I can't abide). We are also different in other ways - maybe that's why she's my best friend. Then, recently, I "caught" my little Granddaughter (age 8) turning to the back of the book after she'd read the beginning chapters to me. What! I can't believe my own flesh and blood would "spoil" the surprise. She says she likes knowing how it will end, and it doesn't change how she enjoys the book. Hmmm? My friend must be influencing her too much!

  48. Barb
    Oops, I think it is too late for your Granddaughter. As long as she keeps reading, that is the important thing.