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Watch the Water

by: Pat Hertzberg

Watch the water!

A story about a Sesekinika Character, and a legacy unfinished   by Pat Hertzberg  (nee Lambe)        


Sesekinika seems to breed a special kind of character. My family moved many times when I was a child and as a result we got to make many friends. For some reason though, it’s the friends from our summers on Sesekinika that stand out as the most cherished and unique “characters.”


One such person is Terry Armstrong. I grew up with Terry, summering each year with a large gang of kids – the offspring of our parents’ good friends. We ended up forming life-long bonds and to this day we all consider one-another like siblings.


Terry was kind of like Peter Pan. He kept his youthful spirit throughout his twenties, and thirties, his forties and even his fifties. He was like a magnet to young kids, and I often thought that being a teacher was a perfect career for him. I think he sees himself in their young eyes. Perhaps he values their energy and their inquisitive spirit. Perhaps he just enjoys their fresh, naive view of life. In any case, he has made a lasting, magical impression on many young kids I know, two of them being my own - Vanessa and David.


They used to tease each other (the kids and Terry) and there was always a running competition going. Terry would hide their teddy bears and then they would hide his beer. Sophisticated water fights were not uncommon. The teasing and techniques became more advanced as they got older.


Terry knew the value of building suspense, and one year he just began saying to them each time he saw them “Watch the Water!” They’d try to get more information out of him, but he’d just repeat “Watch the Water!” This went on for many weeks until one evening, shortly after dark Terry slipped his little canoe into the water and silently paddled to our shore. With him he had a full canister of whipping cream. (No, unfortunately he was not planning to share a nice pie with us.) He stealthily crept up the pathway to our cottage, and knocked on our backdoor.


You must realize that I was on my own at the lake with the two kids (aged about six and nine). No one ever comes to our back door, and certainly not at night! The kids and I were spooked, but this didn’t stop us from answering the knock. As soon as the door was opened, Terry burst in and began spraying both Vanessa and David with whipped cream! They couldn’t believe the fun, and ran squealing with delight all over the cottage as he chased them trailing whipped cream as they ran!


I was also screaming at this point, but it wasn’t with joy. I couldn’t believe the sight before me! I immediately realized that Terry was probably confusing whipping cream with shaving cream. Make no mistake – shaving cream would be infinitely easier to clean up than whipping cream!


The cottage was pretty rustic at that time. I had no running water, and had to heat buckets of water hauled from the lake to wash the greasy cream from their hair before they could climb into bed. It took me a few days to clean the furniture, floor etc.


I have a long memory. I too know the value of building suspense. My message for Terry is: “I love you Terry, but the legend lives on ...and I owe you – BIG TIME!”


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