I walked on water. Back in the day, my little brother thought that was the greatest thing in the world – walking on water. His eyes looked at me with complete admiration, and he aspired to be just like me. In his eyes I was a superhero – not the kind of superhero that could fly, stop criminals, or save the world from destruction – I couldn’t do any of those things. I simply walked on water – not like the story in the Bible, but in the frozen reality of winter in the Adirondacks. Temperatures plunged below zero, the lake froze, and I walked on water – with all my ice fishing gear on a sled towed behind me.
There was swagger in my step as I headed out to grab those fish that day. I felt my little brother’s adoring gaze on my shoulders as he stood on the back porch and watched me walk away. He wasn’t old enough to tag along; Mom was definite about that. Next year, she said.
But, I was just about old enough that year to defy Mom’s rules. I decided it was time to introduce my little brother to the ice fishing adventure that came with walking on water. I turned around and called to him. He charged down the path out to the end of the dock. He hesitated. Fear flashed in his eyes. I spoke the encouraging word and he jumped – landed on two feet – took a step. Our laughter echoed off the mountains. I took his hand. Together we walked on water.
Looking back, I should have listened to my mother. But, I was just about old enough to know everything, so I didn’t listen. My little brother and I walked on out to my fishing spot, set up a few tip ups, then sat around my secret hole in the ice with a rod and reel. It took less than five minutes to realize my mother was right. My little brother was not old enough to be out ice fishing. He had no desire to sit still and jig, or wait for a red flag to tip up. He wanted to walk on water. He walked around, tripped on the sled, kicked over the bucket, and landed on his behind. Then the fish started biting, and I stopped paying attention to him.
Until… I heard his frantic screams for help. So did all the other fishermen on the lake. My brother had walked too close to the narrows and was no longer walking on water. He was in the water. And I ran to save his life.
The rescue was dramatic. The ice fishermen were superheroes. My brother was freezing, wet, frightened, but alive when he emerged from the lake. The ambulance drove us home where Mom went crazy when she learned what happened.
Once things settled down, Mom dished out some chicken soup and then tucked my brother into bed. She read him a story and sat crying softly long after he had fallen asleep.
At daybreak, I went back to my fishing spot and towed all my gear back to the garage. Mom didn’t have to say anything. I was raised to believe there were consequences to all actions. I knew I was grounded. That one close call was all it took for me to realize walking on water carried with it a big responsibility. And so my little brother and I have not been ice fishing since.