21 December 2011

Of lemons and keys and other things

For almost forty years a group of us (runners, kayakers and multisporters from Hamilton, NZ) have been celebrating life in the form of a champagne breakfast to welcome each season.  These have usually taken place on the Waikato River about 15 mins upstream from where we put in for our Saturday kayaking.  We light a fire cook breakfast on it, drink some champagne, tell yarns and go happily homewards.  The event has faltered a bit of recent years but still happens.

Last Saturday it was pouring with rain as I squinted up the river to where I expected to see the smoke of Eric's fire.  No such luck but the local farmer came down and together (and without Eric) and with the help of a little champagne and diesel we soon had a good fire going and had erected a shelter from the rain.

The others arrived and we had our usual bonhomie.  Mid morning we descended the river to our cars - but where were my car keys?  Searching revealed nothing so I had to get back into my kayak and go back up the river to our breakfast spot.  More searching - nothing. It was getting late and I had no cell phone to tell Catherine that I hadn't drowned up the river.  And they had her second set of car keys on the ring.  It was getting worse.

They Float !
It gets better though.  On arriving back at the car place I saw three young guys looking over their new rubber raft and motor on the edge of the river.  "Have you seen any car keys" I asked "No", they said but one offered the fact that he'd seen something yellow floating down the river.  Discussion indicated that this was probably my keys - they floated!  By now they must have been well down the river if not tangled up in some willows.  "Would you like us to have a look for them" they offered, probably keen to demonstrate the usefulness of their new craft.  I checked that they had enough fuel and gratefully accepted.  Off they went.

I put my kayak on the car and sat down on the bank to watch the ducks.  I reckoned that the chances of them finding my keys were were less than one in ten.  After a while the sound of their motor approached and they came back around the corner - they waited until they arrived on shore until they smiled and produced the keys and their lemon-like floatation attachment . They must have been floating down the river for about three hours as it is certain they fell out on my first trip up the river.  The boys had found them down near the Cobham Bridge.

 I was besides myself with gratitude - had no chance of rewarding them other than with a beaming smile and utterances.  I, too often, bemoan the 'state of the younger generation' there is too much publicity given to all the bad news and the graffiti about the city doesn't help.  Every so often you happen on something like this - better than champagne to celebrate life.  Thanks guys.  You made my Christmas.

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