While walking the narrow paths and bridges around the pond, my cell phone rang and as a matter of habit, I answered it with lightning speed. I had become accustomed to doing this, as it was usually my daughters or parents with an immediate situation that needed handling. Little to my surprise it was my mother. As my daughters waved their goodbyes, eager to begin their explorations, my mother gave me the weather update and instructions to make sure the girls were dressed appropriately. My mind started wondering as she spoke. Had I somehow forgotten how to raise my daughters? Does she realize she is nagging; no, it is just motherly love in its rawest form, tied with a bow. “Thanks Mom, I’m on top of it. Love you, bye.”
I had not been off the phone but a second when Kayla appeared, clearly out of breath, “Dad, Emily is in trouble, follow me.” Panicked, I ran after her. We arrived at a marshy, densely overgrown part of the sanctuary. I could hear Emily’s cries, “Dad, I’m Stuck.” “Where are you Emily?” “In front of you, look down!” In the thick brush, about twelve feet away I could see Emily’s head and shoulders. The rest of her body had sunk into the mud. I instructed Emily not to move as Kayla and I passed one end of a bamboo stalk we found and fished her back to solid land.
Emily looked like the Abominable mud girl and smelled worse. I yapped, “Why did you go into the mud, Emily?” “I wanted to see what would happen and it was fun.” Since she was a baby, Emily had always liked to roll in the snow or stand out in the rain. She could never resist jumping in a puddle especially if it was full of mud, which meant clothing changes were frequently needed while waiting for the school bus. I had foolishly thought she had outgrown this stage, so for the first time I had no contingency plan. All I had was a towel and her bathing suit.
As we walked to the front of the park I turned to Emily, “there is no way I’m letting you in my new car like that! Get in the pond and rinse off!” Emily protested, “I am not going in the dirty pond where the ducks poop!” “You don’t have much of a choice unless you want to live here.” With that, Emily went into the pond and sat down whooshing water on herself to break up the mud. “How long do I have to stay in here, It’s cold?” “As long as it takes you to get the dirt off,” I replied.
As Emily splashed around in the pond, I heard a mother exclaim to her young daughter, “You see that girl in the pond, doesn’t she look silly. That’s what happens when children don’t listen.” She then looked at me sympathetically and walked on. As I look around, I notice we had drawn a crowd. How embarrassing I thought as I pulled my baseball cap lower hoping that no one recognized me and thanking heaven that Barry Gordon, the on the spot Hamptons photographer, was not there to captured our image.
Emily got out of the water, her clothes still embedded with mud. “Emily you are going to have to put on your bathing suit.” “Okay, let me in the car,” Emily replied. “No way, that’s not happening”, I said. “Here is your bathing suit. Find a wooded area with your sister where you can change and I will keep a lookout.” Begrudgingly she complied. At that point, I thought if only I could buy her a ticket home on the Hamptons Subway, but everyone knows it does not run offseason.
I tossed Emily’s dirty clothes into a plastic supermarket bag, which is now extinct in these parts, but never the less a useful survival tool for all situations, put a towel on the seat, instructed her not to move and drove home to the springs where I stubbornly washed her clothing over and over again to no avail.
So, if you see me in theHamptonslying by the pool soaking up the sun with a martini in hand remember I am here strictly for medicinal purposes.
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