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

Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

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 andndash; from water wings

to Styrofoam floatation devices andndash; 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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