Ah, I love when life writes itself. The woman who f-bombed me for legally and safely parking in my hometown on the way to the balloon festival added depth to what was otherwise a one dimensional day of festivities and local culture. A needed reminder that life, despite its tendency to appear chummy and affable, is always out to get you.
I was out for a paddle at Sumner's Falls in Hartland, Vermont with my two friends Cassie and Austin. It was a low water, reasonably uneventful day, the waves curled just enough for surfing. Two fishermen built fires on the beach alongside the eddy, and the smoke mingled with the metallic tang of churning water. Eventually we'd run all the rapids and ended up beneath them in the wide, flat calm of the open Connecticut. Instead of bothering to walk back up, we tooled around the rest of the afternoon, talking about how lucky we were to be born in this state, in this place, next to this river.
Then we hiked back up to the beach and discovered that Austin's car had been vandalized. The passenger side windows were smashed out and little cubes of of aqua colored safety glass were everywhere. His wallet was among the missing. My heart swam into my large intestine as I jogged over to my car, and sure enough I hadn't been spared. My window was as wide and gaping as The Scream. I tiptoed through the glass, immediately cut open my thumb, and took a tally of everything that was missing. Which, somehow, was nothing.
Nothing! I had not yet cleaned out my car from my recent move, and apparently the clutter just overwhelmed the perps! One more salute to the unbelievable messiness that is my way of life! Their one attempt at digging deeper had been to open the sunglasses holder above the driver's seat. Please- I had lost my sunglasses weeks before. Had they known anything about online gear re-sales, they could have made a fortune in Kokatat and quick draws. And had they known anything about the places normal people stash their Ipods and wallets when they leave a car in an sketchy spot, they could have been up four dollar bills and a lot of Southern grocery store savings cards. And an Ipod.
Really, for all the fuss, all they did was smash the window and put a sizable dent in my dreamy ideals about New England. And, my insurance didn't cover it one red cent. On the plus side, I finally learned what a deductible is.
The silvery lining of all this, is that it gave us the opportunity to mingle with the local fishermen. We offered them Jelly Beans in a gesture of friendship and, I'm pleased to say, the following photo is not staged:
The little one is named Tim and the big one is named Bubba- thank you Lord I've finally met a Bubba. We asked if they'd seen anything, and they hadn't, but they sure told us a lot of other things. Tim had an autistic savant like approach to conversation: he told us every fact and statistic there was to know about Sumner's falls. How more people drown there than they should. The human sized fish that swam way below the surface, and the monstery things that were occasionally spotted sunning themselves. He recounted with particular fondness the story of a crazy man that held three canoeists at gunpoint, completely nude. This, he said, making a sweeping gesture with his hand, was a dangerous place of outlaws and rogue activity.
"My God," I said, toeing at a chunk of window, "I had no idea. Me and Cass were planning on coming out here alone the other night to paddle in the full moon."
"Woah- hay! Nevah come out here alone!" said Bubba, speaking for the first time. "I don't evah come out here without a shotgun. I tells ya- I got one right here in the cah." He tilted his chin at the beat up truck, and I noticed the outline of a teenage boy, hunched in the backseat like a big insect. "And nevah-" he continued, "come out here in the full moon. Indian ghosts. Bands of them. I ain't kidding yah. I see them, I see them come out here in their birch bahk canoes-"
Tim interupted. "Yup, and I see'd them lanterns floating out there, I was with my wife and she says, she says to me that looks like a birch bahk canoe and I says, let's just get outa here!"
And so it went. In case you are wondering, Tim and Bubba did not appear the type to bother making up stories. They seemed completely true to their word, and I believe them. The naked man and the man eating fish and the Indian ghosts, I believe it all. I'm just upset that I have to be thinking about all these things whenever I go paddling again. With my luck and limited skill set there's already enough to worry about.
Austin had to call four different numbers before reaching the local police, who, as it turned out, had no idea where Sumner's falls was. They didn't bother coming down for the occasion, just gave us each a case number and called it a day. I tacked up a garbage bag on the window until the glass was replaced, and eventually I vacuumed up the rest of the evidence. The only thing we're still chewing on is- why us? Why our two cars when their was a fancy shmancy lincoln deal with out of state plates parked right there with us? My only guess is that they were targeting the kayakers. The haughty, hippy, stir up the water and scare the fish kayakers. And I guess I understand. There have a few times when I've had the urge to smash out a few windows, but I don't have the coconuts.
The obvious question now is this: who is coming with me to investigate on the next full moon? Bubba says that the beat of the ghost drums can be heard at the end of the road, so we could probably get away with just a drive by. Who's in?