The sun was just coming up when we pushed the boat away from the bank, and as quietly as we could, fired up the motor and idled away from the rows of caravans, tents and swags that were still all sealed up with their occupants fast asleep.
Barefoot skiers love the still, glassy water that is easiest to find at dawn. Before the breeze starts up things are still. There is a light mist across the water, and fish are still leaving small ripples across the surface.
We’d get maybe half a kilometre up the river before we’d fire the boat up onto the plane and unleash the Chevy V8. In the still and quiet of the early morning, it would bellow out as we headed far enough away that the skiing could begin.
In the middle of winter, we’d be wearing ‘dry suits’. They had rubber seals on each ankle and wrist, and around your neck to keep the water out. We’d wear tracksuits and snow ski parker’s underneath to fight off the cold. You’d slide your gloves on whilst sitting on the side of the boat and at the last minute slip into the water.
We used ‘short ropes’ so it didn’t take as long for the boat to be set and pull us out, and you’d hold your breath because of the cold now pressing in on your chest.
As soon as you’d lay on your back, feet pointing towards the boat, the driver would take off. You were pulled feet first up to around 40mph and then flick your feet onto the water surface and stand up. Once you had the technique it was a simple enough process, but before that the crashes were monumental. Arms, legs, face, all would be slammed into the water surface with such violence it would take a few seconds to work out which way was up and which way was down!
It was the complete contrast that made everything so fascinating. One minute you were sitting in complete silence. Ducks would be swimming along the reed bed near the shore and mist was rolling across the surface. It would be completely silent.
And then, in the fraction of a second, the roar of a 350 Chev at full noise would bellow up the gullies on either side of the river, and the violence of being dragged out of the water and hurled up the river would shatter the world. Ducks would have heart attacks, and cattle would bolt for the nearest shed.
It’s a nice parity of the rest of life. Those moments of quiet and simple things, shattered by times of struggle and mayhem. If not physical, then certainly emotional.
Complicated relationships, constant expectations, the demands of jobs and family, work and leisure. All competing sometimes for that last ounce of emotional energy.
And in amongst it, for me at least, the constant of God being there with me. Never finding myself alone, because even in the quietest and the craziest of moments, God is there. It’s why the Bible talks about a ‘joy’ that isn’t dependent on all things going our way.
No matter what your life is like at the moment, you can rely on God to be your ‘constant’.