The Rivanna River runs through the town/county I live in. Many people canoe on it and fish in it, and this weekend I took my first swim in it.

And my last.

A few years ago I look my girls on a hike along the Rivanna River, and at one spot there is a little beach where it’s fun to skip stones and slip your feet into the water. I had told my husband about it, and he was naturally intrigued. He loves all kinds of fish, frogs, turtles and other pond/river wildlife.

So one day when the kids were bored and hubby wasn’t sure what to do with them, I suggested he take them to the Rivanna to explore and wade. He did the trip one better. He clad the girls in old sneakers and suits and took them swimming in the river – it was an outing that they utterly adored.

They told me that I had to come the next time they went – that it was so much fun. My main goal in going was to gather some river stones for use in my garden. With the weather as hot as it was we decided to go this past Saturday afternoon.

The beach my husband took us to had quite a few people there. It was tricky to get to the main part of the river – we had to pick our way from the concrete boat launch to some slippery-looking boulders and then wade through calf deep water to get to the stretch of pebbly shoreline that ran along the widest stretch of water.

Once we put our bags & towels down, we headed out into the water. It felt wonderful for the first few yards. Then the river bottom got very rocky and very uneven. Every single step was  a mystery in elevation…I’d be ankle deep one second and then up to my waist the next. I found it extremely unnerving and annoying. Not to mention the fatigue – my body was in a constant balance check and soon I got tired of battling gravity.

I tried to just swim, but when I’d hit a low spot my belly & knees would knock against the rocks and logs on the bottom – and it would kind of freaked me out. I don’t know why but the thought of my bare skin touching the algae covered river rocks skeeved me out.

I moved over to the level, sandy portion of the river and hung out for a while. Hubby and my youngest made their way down to a tiny little rapid just below the beach, so I carefully picked my way closer to them so I could watch and we could chat.

I was standing in calf-deep water watching them enjoy the rushing water of the little waterfall, when I felt a pin prick on the back of my knee. I absent-mindedly brushed it away just to feel another prick right after it. I swatted at my leg with a wet wave of my hand, and then felt another prick at my other leg.

I look down and there is a huge horse-fly treating my leg like it was a $5 footlong. Mother fuckers! I frantically begin swatting at both my legs, which now have several droplets of blood forming on them.

I marched unsteadily to the shore where I surveyed the damage and rubbed my wounds. This trip had just gone from so-so to sucky. The fork was in. I was officially done.

I sat on a towel and people watched – I had forgotten  my book which was an error of monumental proportions. I got up and searched for stones, took some photos, and waited for Hubby and daughter to return from their swim down the river.

When they got back, my little girl caught some tadpoles and a crayfish for our pond –  this was a Godsend because we really couldn’t keep them in the small container we brought for too long. Our trip to the river was going to be ending very soon and I was enormously thankful, even if I did get a few dirty looks from my husband. He was having fun and did not want to leave.

I’m glad both my girls and my husband enjoy the river. When I think of my childhood in New Jersey, if you weren’t at the town pool, you weren’t in the water. But my kids have so many wonderful options – our community lake, the pool and now, the river. I’m glad that they will think back when they are grown and have great memories of afternoons spent splashing in our area’s natural waterways.

Not me, though. I think I’m going to stick to the pool.

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