Posted in Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging From A-Z 2015, Challenges and Contests, Just for Fun!, Life Writing, Writing in Freedom

Nine Mile Pond: #atozchallenge, Day 16

Ever have a really bad day?  How about one you could easily have prevented, if you’d only known how? One that might have been glorious, if you’d made other choices?

On Day 1, waaay back at A, I wrote about two of my most interesting alligator encounters, including the time my Accomplice and I hit one with a canoe, because we mistook it for a piece of driftwood.

Today, you get to hear about our first time canoeing on Nine Mile Pond, and the lesson learned along the way.

Okay. You’ll need your life vest for this journey. All set? Then set your paddle to the water, stroking in a “J” pattern (there’s the alphabet again!), and finding a rhythm with your companion in the back of the canoe –

Which turns out to be a lot trickier, and maybe even impossible, if you happen to be having an extremely unpleasant and passionate argument with that person.

And more so if you happen to be the stalking-off type, but you’re paddling on a swampy, alligator-laden pond.
Canoeing (not arguing!)  Nine Mile Pond; Photo by EvergladesNPS, via Flickr. Creative Commons license.


Getting off a verbal punch that packs a wallop is very hard to do when you need to be facing forward, so you keep twisting around in the little boat, which makes your neck ache because you were in a car accident a few years earlier, and suffered whiplash, so your neck doesn’t like being twisted that way, and, before long, you’ve got a tight, aching neck trying to support an achier head and a brain on fire with angry retorts…

Rhythm? Are you kidding me? That went over the side the second voices were raised – or maybe even sooner. For sure, what you are now is two people each trying to go their own way in an eight foot long piece of aluminum, in the swamp – the swamp that, remember, is full of alligators, and possible also snakes and other predatory creatures – and most definitely mosquitoes – remember those little critters from “M”? You’ve heard about people getting lost in the swamps, and never found, and cell phones – if they’ve been invented, at this point, you’ve never actually seen one, so it doesn’t matter.

Yup, you’re lost. You’ve got a printed map, (no Google Maps, because it didn’t exist yet!) but, surprise, surprise, you don’t agree at all on how to interpret it, and thoughts of being stuck forever in this wilderness of mangroves and unseen threats circle in your head, getting all tangled up with the stabbing words you use to slash at your companion, your spouse, because you KNOW you’re right – and he isn’t, and you need to prove it to him more than you need to be safe, or enjoy the beauty all around you…
Mangrove at Nine Mile Pond. Photo by EvergladesNPS via Flickr. Creative Commons license.

Years later, when you’re recounting this story for a blog post, it’ll seem ridiculous. You’ll shake your head at how silly it was to fight so bitterly, and so ineffectively, and to spoil what might have been an amazing exploration with a bitter dispute over whether you would adopt a child (not a specific child, mind you – a theoretical one, off in the future somewhen).

You know now that there are better way to settle issues you don’t agree on. And, you’re both on the other side of three births – with two healthy children, and the reality that the one between lived his entire twelve-day life in the NICU, never crying, never well…

The reality of the two big kids who fill your life, and the one who lives forever in your soul, will make that long-ago fight seem like an incredible waste. So much anger, then, and so much wasted time and opportunity for connection, and working together toward a solution. You’ll know it wasn’t by far the only time you wasted, and not even close to the only bitter dispute over the smallest of details – details that triggered one or both of you, springing open some booby trap set earlier in life, when you didn’t even know each other yet.

You’ll realize that marriage can be like that swamp – especially when it’s new, and when neither of you know the path to take to resolve conflict peaceably. Especially when so many of the dangers are well camouflaged, seeming to appear out of nowhere – like an alligator where you thought there was only driftwood. You see how often you wandered around, paddling disharmoniously, lost, because you were so certain that You Were Right that you couldn’t even allow the possibility that there might be no right and no wrong – only two people with their own desires and ideas and preconceptions.
Harmony we didn’t have, on that trip…Photo by EvergladesNPS, via Flickr. Creative Commons license.

And you’ll breath a huge sight of relief that you made it out of the swamp – of Nine Mile Pond, and the morass of interpersonal relationships – alive, and maybe a little wiser.

This post has been part of the #atozchallenge. You can find numerous other nifty “N” posts by clicking the banner.

How do you argue with your loved ones? Have you had any epic conflicts, with your partner, or someone else? Have you learned from these? Laughed or cried over them? If you’ve got stories or insights to share, drop ‘m below!

And, as a special treat, here’s what we might have experienced, if we hadn’t been fighting, instead!  Thankfully, we didn’t miss out on this, the second time around!




I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

10 thoughts on “Nine Mile Pond: #atozchallenge, Day 16

  1. Reblogged this on Wing's World and commented:
    With my parents’ 60th anniversary recently celebrated and the usual summer slew of wedding announcements appearing on facebook and in our mailbox, I’ve been thinking about marriage…but really, I just wanted an excuse to reblog this excellent post by my writer friend Shan Jeniah Burton. Two people canoeing through a swamp, a metaphor for marriage? Tell me more! Shan was taking part in something called the “A to Z Challenge” at the time, blogging on a different letter of the alphabet each day. I think ANYONE in a relationship, whether married or not, will enjoy her take on the letter “N.” Take it away, SJ!

    1. Well, then, I hope your spouse compares favorably! =)

      I loved those months in the Everglades. Honestly, despite the mosquitoes, we would have gone back the following winter, except that the work conditions at Flamingo were so absolutely wretched at the time…

      All my best memories were of taking canoes and skiffs into the swamp or out onto Florida Bay, or of the wildlife, or specific people whose company I really enjoyed!

      1. Have you by chance read “Swamplandia”? I am not as well acquainted with the Everglades as you are, and I’ve wondered how well that author captured the deep, swampy Florida that most people don’t know much about

        1. I haven’t read it yet. If I do, I’ll let you know what I think.

          There is a video by Barbara Home Stewart that details a 1960’s canoe trek into the swamps and the Keys – a trip that took two years, in a canoe named Nockatee (which inspired the name of a character for me)….

          I would have loved to have had more time in the swamps. I’m in love with mangroves!

    1. *takes bow*

      Why, thank you! Not as well lived, I’m afraid…but it was a lesson eventually learned that has led to far more peace, so maybe Iwe needed to live through it.

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