Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hair Washing Memories

(My boys on a similar trip a few years later.)
Many summers ago, my father, my two sons, who were about fifteen, and I spent a week canoeing in the backcountry of Ontario's Algonquin Park.  One acquires a layer of uncomfortable grunge on such expeditions, and so I planned to clean off in the water about midway through the trip.
(A portion of Algonquin.  I think that on this trip about which I am writing we were up in the square jutting north off the map.)
We camped on a small peninsula jutting into one of the hundreds of lakes marking Algonquin and, as the sun began to set, I eased a canoe into the water and paddled to a nearby stretch of rock for some privacy.  I lathered myself up as completely as I could while remaining dry, and then slipped into the frigid water.  My goal was to rinse hair and body as thoroughly and speedily as possible so that I could clamber back onto the rock and dry off before I was frozen into a pillar of ice, never to look back.
Afterward, there would have been fleece clothing and a campfire, packs hoisted into the trees to discourage bears, and a night curled up in a tent.  A routine evening, its memory merged with others.  But I do recall clearly the beauty of that cold bath in a remote lake as the sky lit up with streaks of evening sunlight.
That interlude was what I thought about this morning as I engaged in the arduous task of wheeling my scooter to the kitchen sink, washing my hair, wheeling to the tiny half bath to sponge bathe the rest of me, and wheeling to the living room to dress. 
I have nothing to complain about on this icy day of yet more snowfall; I am warm and safe inside.   But I decided that I much preferred to daydream about Algonquin while I bathed than to focus on the effort it takes to accomplish the same thing this month!


  1. Oh, I do feel for you! I can well remember last year when i couldn't move my right arm because of my shattered shoulder and needed a home health person just to sponge bathe me. No way could I wash my hair. The most glorious day was when my daughter took me to a walk-in hair salon. The (new-to-me) hairdresser wrapped me in a cape to keep me dry and had me sit and lean FORWARD into the sink while she washed my hair. I was very unsteady because of the pain meds, so she even knelt in the floor to wipe up water than had dripped there, so I wouldn't slip and fall. My daughter said she tipped her well. You continue to be in my prayers.

  2. What a sweet memory. Life is such a mish-mash of the beautiful and terrible, and you were wise to name your blog that.