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From the Publisher's Desk: Learning to swim in the dog days of summer

Thomas and Smitty enjoy the surf under the B Street pier Sunday afternoon. The Daily Triplicate/Michele Thomas
Thomas and Smitty enjoy the surf under the B Street pier Sunday afternoon. The Daily Triplicate/Michele Thomas
When the skies are blue and the sun is shining, I’m easily distracted. It’s difficult to stay on task — whether I’m working at the office or doing chores at home. My sun-seeking mischievous twin finds ways to break out of interior confines and follow the call of the surf.

My oldest (by 20 minutes) son Collin recently relocated to Crescent City. He acknowledges now that I wasn’t fibbing when I’d boast about our beautiful weather here while he lived in Grants Pass where heavy fog and cold in winter can get really depressing. I remember a four-month stretch once when the fog never lifted. He’s been sufficiently impressed with the gorgeous days we’ve had.

Last weekend we spent both Saturday and Sunday afternoons under the B Street pier at low tide with our dogs. Collin’s 8-month-old pup Thomas was under the tutelage of his older, experienced “Uncle” Smitty, our yellow Lab mix who was teaching Thomas the ropes in the water. Our older Chow-mix, Martha, ignored them, preferring to sniff rocks and driftwood on higher ground.

Watching Thomas chase and imitate Smitty at water’s edge made us laugh. If Smitty ran in one direction, Thomas ran right after him. Rick threw a stick into the surf and Thomas waited to see what Smitty would do, then followed bravely, but when Smitty swam Thomas hesitated.

At a deep tide pool next to a large rock, Thomas watched from the edge, curious about that paddling thing Smitty was doing. By the end of Sunday’s outing, Thomas had found his swimming genes and jumped in. He was pretty proud of himself.

On the way home we reminisced about how my youngest son, Dana, had learned to swim. His brothers, Collin and Matt, were five years older and had mastered swimming by the time they were 3. Before we moved from Hawaii to Grants Pass they were able to jump off the side of a pool and swim to the other side. But Dana was born inland, and despite several attempts at lessons, he refused to get his face wet. It would be mean to say he was a cry baby when he got wet, so I won’t put it in print. But it was exasperating for all of us because we all loved the water so much and wanted him to love it, too. Everything I tried – from water wings to Styrofoam floatation devices – didn’t help.

Then one weekend the family stayed at the Inn of the Seventh Mountain in Bend, Ore. I am not sure if it’s still there or what it looks like now, but back in the mid-80s it was a fabulous family resort. There were lots of things for kids to do including swim in the big pool with the slide. We were all there, enjoying the hot afternoon sun, and Matt and Collin repeatedly climbed the stairs to the top of the slide and swooshed down. Then I looked up and in disbelief saw Dana at the top of the slide, just about to let go. For a moment I froze, then watched him go down — fast. I yelled to his brothers who were in the water and both of them swam over and pulled Dana out after he had gone under, deep.

Dana was smiling when I ran over to wrap a towel around him. It was a proud smile. It had been his idea to follow his brothers down the slide and his time to start swimming that day. Like Thomas, he found his swimming genes and never looked back.

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate’s publisher, at mthomas@

triplicate.com, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

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