According to soothsayers, my astrological chart is “loaded with water.” I am a Cancer, which is a water sign and I’m married to an Aquarius, “the water bearer.” I’ve been told I will always be around water, surrounded by it. So it makes perfect sense that our farm is situated right on top of a huge, underground aquifer. Turns out this part of Ohio is loaded with water in the form of rivers, streams, lakes and aquifers. I grew up near Lake Erie, still live close to it now and love looking out over the water or just seeing it every day as I drive by (Those who have never seen a Great Lake have no idea how impressive they are). But I never thought I would have a home on top of a hidden lake.
Being surrounded by water comes in handy because I’m pretty sure my husband is a merman. It first occurred to me way back when we went to Australia on our honeymoon. One of our stops was an island on The Great Barrier Reef. He couldn’t wait to get into the ocean there and once he was in, I couldn’t get him out. I was journaling under a palm tree, watching him loll about like a baby seal until he emerged, breathlessly telling me that he saw more variety of fish snorkeling in chest deep water than he had in all his scuba dives combined. He begged me to join him in scuba diving on The Great Barrier Reef the next day. Giddy with newlywed loyalty, I forced myself to do it. I took the resort course the next day, which pretty much taught me how not to kill myself and, the cardinal rule of diving, “stick with your buddy.”
The next thing I knew, we were sixty feet deep in the clear, azure waters of the Reef for two dives. I honestly don’t remember much about the first dive; it is a blurry memory of me concentrating on staying alive, checking the water for the Great White Sharks, holding my regulator tight against my mouth and my mask even tighter against my face, lest either of them gets knocked off by a rogue fish. (I had learned in my resort course how to retrieve them but had quickly decided they were staying put, thank you very much). On the way to our second dive, I sucked in the surface air and thanked God I was still alive. The first mate tied up the boat to a buoy, we all ate lunch and prepared ourselves for the next dive at a famous site called The Cod Hole.
The boat began to rise and fall with the ocean swells and I slowly turned more and more green, eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to talk myself out of heaving my guts over the side of the boat. Just then, Merman called out, “Hey captain! It looks like we’ve got company.” Everyone froze and followed his gaze over the water. There, about fifty yards from the boat, jutting out of the water, were two enormous dorsal fins … sharks. “Well, that’s just perfect,” I thought to myself. The first mate, a crazy, redheaded Aussie, jumped into a zodiac dingy and raced over to the dorsal fins. Everyone on the boat stood in tense silence as the Aussie kicked at the sharks. “What in the hell is he doing?” I thought. “I am going to watch this lunatic get eaten alive.” But inside I was relieved. “Well, we’re clearly going in to shore,” I said. “Nothing ruins a tourist dive more than the first mate being turned into chum.”
The Aussie returned to the boat, however, and declared, “They’re just a couple of tiger sharks, about four meters each, chomping on some whale blubber that’s stuck to the reef.” (I did some quick math … “Holy mackerel, that’s thirteen feet!”) As I started to take my gear off and open a beer, he shouted, “But, they’re not frenzyin’ … we’re going in!”
“What the?! Excuse me?” My knees went out from under me and I’m pretty sure I shat myself.
Merman immediately suited up, went to the back of the boat and caught my tearful stare. “Babe … you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to …” And then, splash! He was in. All the other divers tiptoed over to the side of the boat to see if the sharks would eat my newlywed husband. As he slowly descended beneath his bubbles, one by one, the divers on board joined him in the water until I was the last one standing, blubbering alone on the deck, struggling with a mix of seasickness and fear. “Oh screw it,” I finally said to myself. “I think I’d rather be eaten by a tiger shark than feel this lousy for one more minute.” So, in I went.
All alone in the middle of the water column, I fought back my fear, nausea, and panic and slowly descended the sixty feet to meet my group. I could see them below, surrounded by enormous grouper or as the Aussie’s call them, Potato Cod (hence the name, Cod Hole). “I’ll just land on that large rock below and survey the scene from there,” I thought. Except that the large rock turned out to be a very large grouper who was not at all pleased with my tickling his backside with my flippers. I careened away from him, crashing into a stack of exquisite staghorn coral, sending it into smithereens. I caught the eye of the dive master through a veil of bubbles; he just shook his head at me in disgust.
The dive proceeded through veritable canyons of vibrant coral and a variety of amazingly beautiful fish. It really was awesome. Occasionally I would lose Merman and scream at him through my regulator into the ocean, “Stick with your buddy, x@%*!!” only to discover he was floating above me the whole time, blissfully at home in his natural state.
I spent the entire next day on a lounge chair drinking mimosas with a Japanese woman named Mayumi while Merman went on more dives without me. A year later, I got my scuba diving certification. I figured if we were going to be doing more scuba diving in our marriage, I needed to know what the hell I was doing. And indeed, we have had many wonderful (and a few terrifying) dives since.
So, all these years later, here we are with a farm on top of a lake. We do have a swimming pool, too. And, just to make sure Merman is okay, we made it a saltwater pool. Sharks not included.