Sunday, December 8, 2013

The First Lost Tooth

It finally happened, that first wiggly tooth, the one that has been loose since August, it came out! Lets back up a little bit... back to August, when we were on the Gates of Lodore, a five day stretch of the Green River on the border of CO & UT. That was when Charlotte first noticed she had a loose tooth, it was very exciting as it was her first loose tooth! Now here is the funny part, there was a woman on our trip who is getting close to that grandma age but has no grand kids, and so of course Loved Charlotte. She asked me if she could play tooth fairy, since this was after all, the first loose tooth! I agreed to indulge the fun, but then found myself grimacing when a $5 bill was the only available funds... ouch, for just a loose tooth... that was going to set the stage for inflation! So I quickly explained to a very excited Charlotte waiving her crisp $5 bill that the Gates of Lodore tooth Fairy doesn't get allot of kids loosing teeth in her Canyon, so when one comes through with even just a loose tooth she gets a little over excited and leaves a bigger than normal present for not even loosing a tooth yet. Whew! The story seemed to work! She even likes to tell people about the overly excited Gates of Lodore tooth fairy...

Fast forward to mid November- the Rio Grande was running at almost 700 cfs! While this may not seem like allot of water, it is, for that River, during this drought period. The Rio Grande has seen dismal flows over the past three years: peaks around 600 cfs, average flows around 250 cfs... it has been a rough three years. Whats happening that there is water now you ask? Well, water law is complex and bizarre... basically now that Colorado is done irrigating for the season it is finally sending the water it owes Texas, down to Texas. Fair? Not really, but at least Texas can store that water in Elephant Butte Reservoir until they can use it next spring. And crazy people like us take advantage of the flows to get some "high water" November Rio Grande boating in!

We packed up all our cold weather camping gear, a quiverfull of boats, gave Charlotte's school an absentee notice and headed down to New Mexico! We got into camp well after dark (not hard to do this time of year,) but thoroughly enjoyed a frosty evening around the campfire. Grandma and a friend met us bright & early the next morning, Grandma happily ran what would have been a long and heinous shuttle for us to do, in exchange for a day with Charlotte! Alan, our friend Stefanie and I then launched onto the 16.5 mile class IV Taos Box... one of my favorite stretches of water in the entire world! And one that I hadn't been on in over three years, due to unrunnably low flows. The day was chilly, windy, and Blissfully Beautiful! A breathtaking sunset during de-rig iced the cake of our day, and we drove to Santa Fe for warm food, cold beer and a warm bed.
A beautiful day in the Taos Box
The end of a beautiful day on the Taos Box...


The next day Grandma and one of my old high school girlfriends Abbie, rallied with us to run the racecourse, (the half day class III stretch of the Rio Grande.) The sky was cold & grey in Santa Fe, and I layered my mom to the tee, worried about keeping her warm. As we drove toward the River though the sky began to clear and by the time we were getting ready to launch, it was sunny and warm!

We strapped Charlotte's new Fun1 kayak to the bow of our little raft, and off we went! It was sooo much fun to see a little bit of water in the Rio! I went everywhere I normally (normal in the last three years,) couldn't go! Charlotte sat on her upside down kayak, riding the bull. Grandma and Abbie paddled, we giggled, squealed, whooped & hollered, nostalgia ran high with the fun. I think the last time I had run the Racecourse with Abbie, we were 19 years old...

Charlotte concentrating on wiggling her tooth while running "Big Rocks" rapid.
All of us girls having a blast!
The tooth! Wiggling that tooth while stopped for a snack...
Charlotte sat up on her perch incessantly wiggling her loose tooth, and at one point Abbie said "Can you twist it from side to side?" At which point Charlotte said, with fingers in mouth, "I can! Look Mommy! I can twist it from side to..." Not finishing her sentence, Charlotte suddenly had a very odd look on her face, somewhere between surprise and concern. Grandma exclaimed "Oh! It came out!" Sure enough, Charlotte held up her tooth between her thumb and fore finger and grinned an unsure, slightly bloody grin. "Here Lovie, let me see your tooth." I said, quickly standing up to reach for her hand across the length of the boat. I grabbed the tooth and tucked it quickly but gingerly into the zipper pouch on my lifejacket.

Charlotte still had that uncertain look on her face, half smile, but maybe close to tears. I can imagine, though do not remember, that the emotion of loosing ones first tooth is somewhere between excitement and sorrow. Grandma asked Charlotte if she was OK, Charlotte said yes, and continued to grin that bloody, uncertain smile.

Alan had just paddled on ahead to the rapid Sousehole, just around the corner, so that he could get out & take photos of us coming through the rapid. At this point we too were around the corner and ready to run Sousehole, tooth safe in Mommy's PFD pocket, Charlotte turned back around & holding on, we had a fun splashy ride through the rapid! At the bottom I yelled back up at Alan telling him the good news, to which Charlotte excitedly echoed "Yeah! Daddy! I lost my tooth!" "Cool!" He replied.

The girl and her tooth!
I of course had to get out my camera at that point and get that gaping grin shot! Grandma kept asking Charlotte if she was OK, Charlotte kept answering yes, but you could see that she was indeed processing the whole event and all the feelings, both physical and emotional. She kept saying how weird it felt on her tongue, and that she could fit her pinky in the space!

Running Sousehole now toothless...

...while tonguing that new weird gap.

"Daddy! I lost my tooth!"

Uncertainty... new emotions, new sensations...
Sousehole is the last rapid on the racecourse and after that is a whole mile of flat water called the mellow mile, which Charlotte had wanted to paddle in her Fun1, (hence the reason for strapping it to the bow of the raft.) So at this point we unloaded the kayak & she launched on her own craft, following Daddy's sage guidance. Charlotte paddled that shiny new green edgy chinned machine like a pro! It was her first time paddling it in current, and she seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself. At one point Alan asked her how she was doing to which she replied "I feel weird." "Why?" He asked. "Because there is blood running down my throat." And at that, she paddled on...
"I feel weird..."

Paddling her first whitewater in the Fun1.

High Five for Growth and Adventure!

This day, November 14th 2013, was a bit of a coming of age for Charlotte. The first lost tooth always is. It is that loss of infancy, baby teeth leaving the body to make room for those big kid teeth that will be with you the rest of your life. The realization of growing up, the undeniable physical evidence. No matter how much she googoo's and gaga's and crawls around, the fleeting baby years are gone... never to come back again. And the child grows: in beauty, kindness and compassion, in height, strength and wisdom. For this River child her first lost tooth coincided with other growth too, that boat on those waves, her hands and her hands alone in control, the drive, the desire, to grow and to strive. Every loss is a gain of growth, just as every ending is a beginning, and the circle of Life is never ending...
Charlotte, Mommy, Grandma and Abbie at the takeout.
The circle continues... children grow. Then they grow up, and their children grow...
What a perfect day for Charlotte to do so much growing!
My Mom watched me (and Abbie) grow upon this River too...

No comments:

Post a Comment