Ausable Chasm

Thirty years ago, on an unplanned hike, Daniel's uncle Robert had no intimation of his mortality. We were taking a short vacation a few months after David was born, just a car trip in New England. After taking a ferry across Lake Champlain, we saw signs for Ausable Chasm. This seemed like a nice thing to take the kids (Robert, 4, Kathy, 3, and David,2 months) to see. After we paid our entrance fee, the signs directed us to our choice of a hike to an overlook or a boat trip. Since David was being carried in an early version of an infant seat, very awkward, we voted for the boat trip to the chasm. (Neither of us had any experience at all on which to make this choice; Steve was from New York City and I was from the edge of the plains.) As it turned out, we had to walk about a mile, much of that distance along a narrow path between rushing water below us and a vertical rock wall. Robert was always running ahead, giving us heart failure; Kathy kept a tight hold on my hand, and Steve followed carrying David in his infant seat, asleep. At one point a small open area appeared where the path widened and a bench was placed there. We talked Robert into joining us there for a short while for a rest. At this point David opened his eyes. He had been asleep since before we left the car. He looked around at the high rockwalls surrounding us and then looked at Steve and me as if to say, "What have you done to me now?" This same attitude has reappeared several times during his life.

We finished the hike and joined the group waiting for the boats to leave. Most of the people there were astounded that we had made the choice that we had made. But, of course, we did not know about the hike or that we would now float down the white water through the chasm. Steve was placed in the middle of the boat with David. Robert wanted to hang over the edge but was restrained (he was told the rules). Kathy sat as close as she could to me. The boat ride was not long but was exciting. The usual shop with tourist items was just beyond the boat dock.

It is interesting to speculate what the effect of particular incidents in children's lives have upon them later. The personalities demonstrated by the children remained fairly constant as they grew up. But it is as parents that interesting facets are revealed. Robert, while still taking chances himself, keeps a tight rein on his children. He once commented to me, "I won't let my kids get away with what you let me get away with." Kathy takes every opportunity, every small school vacation, to put her kids in the car and go camping, generally with long hikes included, a practice we did not take up until she had already gone off to college. Daniel is now an experienced hiker at age 4. David is not married and has no children. He is still taking life very cautiously. Julie's life style is determined by Hannah'sosteogenesis imperfecta. There are choices that are simply not hers to make.

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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom