By Cherimie Crane Weatherford
In the harrowing heat of an unforgiving Mississippi summer, swimming holes were not only a respite from soaring temperatures but also an undeniable microcosm of the challenges in life.
Traveling at impressive speeds on gravel-roughened feet, we ran through thickets, thorns and thousands of heat forsaken blades of grass in pursuit of even one dunk in the magical murky water. As kids we were blissfully ignorant of what lies beneath, caring not what swims across and weighing the consequences of parental wrath against the impending adventure of blindly jumping into the comfort of the unknown.
The saga of the forbidden swimming hole continued summer after sweltering summer. We snubbed the safety of chlorine, the whimsy of water parks and no sprinkler system, no matter how impressive, could deter our focus.
The swimming hole was nestled at the bottom of a well-traveled foothill in deep south Mississippi, full of bass, brim, most species of snake and, at just the right time, layered with the ever-so-sticky frog eggs. To me, it was the essence of summer, to Momma it was the prelude to many a visit to the ER. It was an impossible task to mask a dunk in the dirty water — the tell tale mud in the ears or twigs in my matted mane made even the most creative of explanation pale in the light of the obvious. The summer battle waged on, worth every solitary stand.
As age set in and blissful ignorance turned to sudden acceptance of potential danger, the waters still drew me in, just less often and with bated hesitation. Funny how something so mindless morphs into a parody of life. The mystery of what lies beneath, the mistrust of what swims across and the inevitable effort necessary for an impending Momma interrogation increased as the urge to leap lessened. The thicket grew less disturbed, the frog eggs hatched in place, and as time went on the swimming hole seemed to sit quietly like an awkward soul at a summer social. Organized events in contained chlorine took precedence as the war of muddy water subsided.
Soon enough, life took me to farther lands, more expansive pastures and all too often much murkier waters. Drawing from the memories of blindly jumping for the simple sake of jumping, I take risk after calculated risk, sinking almost as much as I swim but swimming nonetheless. Dodging frog eggs, respecting predatory encounters and accepting the occasional twig in matted hair, I jump. Maybe it is a soulful attempt at recapturing the magic of that first summer splash or maybe I swallowed too many frog eggs. Regardless, the familiar urge lives uncontested.
Business ownership is much like my days in muddy waters, less soothing on many occasions but the decadent draw and the desire to navigate the unknown keeps my time-matured interest and life-toughened feet at the ready. More intrinsic the appeal and more complicated the consequence, I do the unpopular.
My little business is set to expand. Greater risk, admittedly murkier waters and no doubt higher temperatures lay ahead. Plenty of safer waters abound than building a retail business in the dead heat of the wonder of the World Wide Web. Perhaps caution would serve me well, perhaps maintaining only one career would suffice. It is possible I could happily soak in the safer waters, but what fun is seeing the bottom prior to jumping?