You already know that I’m from small-town Utah. We had irrigation ditches there and that’s how nearly everybody watered their farms. My dad took the water turn a couple of nights a week. I don’t know if he requested them in the middle of the night because of his day job as a teacher or if that’s just how it usually worked out, but on his days to take the water he got up in the middle of the night and headed down to the farm.
About a half a block from my house on the corner was one of the smaller ditches. It was about three feet across and three feet deep. Most of the time it ran less than a foot of water and we loved to roll up our pants and squish through it with our bare feet. There were several culverts that made exciting tunnels full of weeds and spiders. When the water was mostly gone, the heavy Utah clay dried up and cracked. It was one of our favorite adventure spots, but forbidden by my mother.
Now remember, we were in a small town and there was no cement or wood to hold back the mud and the edges were slippery. It just so happens that the farmers had been through a day or two before and burned away all the vegetation so the water would flow faster. As I inched along, encouraging my stick to pull ahead of Japan’s, my feet slipped in the sludge, and into the ditch I tumbled.
I wasn’t afraid at first. I’d been in the ditch many times, but never with the water flowing so fast. I tried to pull myself up but everything was so slippery and the water forced it’s way up my nose and I couldn’t breathe. I clawed at the edges, desperately trying to find something to hang onto. Somewhere I could hear Japan yelling for help but I couldn’t track his voice. I was no longer sure which way was up. I slipped through the culvert and the water ran even faster. I was cold and muddy and totally out of control.