Saturday, September 15, 2012

The hole story

We went to the farmer's market today, the girls and me. Chloë, as usual, put on her new sneakers by herself. Maia, as usual, went to the rack and pulled down her blue shoes, the ones we originally bought for Chloë as an emergency stopgap before getting her properly fitted. "No, sweetie," I said. "I want you to wear your pink-and-white shoes this time." Chloë wanted to go to the river (actually Swan Creek), which meant Maia would be wandering around a bit, and I wanted her in her nicer, better-fitting shoes. But when I took them down, she shook her head vehemently and put them back up on the rack, and I decided it wasn't worth the fight.

The farmer's market was crowded and noisy, as usual for this time of year, and after buying our peaches and apples we headed off for the river and our favorite vantage point, a little wooden ramp with a landing and a floating dock. I parked the stroller on the landing (we don't go all the way down to the dock; the railing gets much less extensive there and as I have explained to Chloë, if they fall in the water I will absolutely jump in to get them, but I don't want to have to) and took Maia out.

"Look Mama, there's a hole," said Chloë, pointing to a small hole where the wood had rotted away. "Maia will fall through."

"She won't fall through," I said. "It's not even big enough for her foot." But just in case, I covered it with my own foot before we all turned our attention to the brown, lazy river.

But later, not remembering, I moved. And Maia, naturally, put her foot down right on top of the hole. I wasn't looking at the time, but I heard a splintery sort of sound, and Chloë screamed, "Mama!" and pointed. I looked down and found Maia with one leg a few inches shorter than the other, looking down bemusedly at where her foot had pushed through the soft wood at the edges of the hole and stuck.

"Oh, Maia," I exclaimed, envisioning me pulling her up and scraping her foot bloody against the wood. She didn't seem upset--unlike Chloë, who was wailing and jerking her body up and down in agitation--so I took a few seconds to think, then braced her with one arm and pulled away bits of rotten wood with the other. Then I pulled her foot upward. It came--but her shoe didn't; I grabbed, but it tumbled away and fell down, down, to the muddy water below us.

"I was so worried!" Chloë said as I set Maia down and leaned over to see through the hole. "Where is her other shoe?"

"Down there," I said, pointing to where I could see it floating.
"How do we get it?"

"We don't," I said. 

"People in a boat could get it for us easily," she suggested.

"Yes, but we don't know anybody in a boat." I took one last look. "Poor little shoe." Chloë continued to opine hopefully that someone would rescue the shoe for us all the way home. I was just glad I hadn't insisted on the pink-and-white shoes.

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