EDITORIAL

Friends to the rescue

Posted 1/26/22

"There's a bat in the cave." The comment from Dr. David McCann quite obviously directed at me had me bewildered. What was he referencing, was he looking for me to help him in some way? Or was he referring to my son Ted who was lying prone on the couch in

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EDITORIAL

Friends to the rescue

Posted

“There’s a bat in the cave.”

The comment from Dr. David McCann quite obviously directed at me had me bewildered.

What was he referencing, was he looking for me to help him in some way? Or was he referring to my son Ted who was lying prone on the couch in his study? Ted was pale, yet he was alert which was good, seeing what he had been through.

Ted had invited a group of his wind surfing and wing foiling friends and their families to skate on the pond in front of his house. McCann is one of the gang who enjoys these forms of extreme water sports that are all the more challenging when the wind is up and big waves are met with enthusiasm even in the winter with temperatures below freezing. But the first of the recent series of deep freezes offered neither high winds nor big seas. However, there was a benefit – black ice – and Ted saw as an opportunity to bring friends together around a bonfire and have some family fun. He also wanted to try his wing on ice skates.

Leave it to Ted to think of another way to harness the wind.

Of course he’s hardly the first to imagine what the combination of wind and ice could mean. Iceboats – some with crews – have been raced for decades and there are forms of hand-held sails (for that matter an open jacket even works). But what about wings, would they work? Ted wanted to find out, as did some of his friends.

First, an explanation: These wings (like those of an aircraft) are designed to give lift, and when properly aligned provide drive. They are about 10 feet long and are inflated like those used by kite surfers. But unlike kites, they aren’t controlled by cords. Rather, it is up to the individual who holds the wing. As for the foil that is attached to a narrow shaft extending about three feet below what looks like a mini surfboard. The board is nearly submerged by the weight of the rider until the wing catches the wind, lifting the board out of the water when it rides on the foil. Depending on conditions, a wing foil can reach speeds of 30 mph giving the driver a smooth ride above the waves – it sounds like the closest thing to flying.

Could this work on ice? Not that Ted was looking to be elevated above the ice. He and his friends were interested to find out although, I might add, their family members were happy just to do some pond skating with breaks around the fire and to enjoy muffins one of them had brought along.

I laced up my skates and on wobbly legs headed out to see what it was all about. Thankfully, someone had a hockey stick that provided added stability. Two inflated wings lay on the ice. Conditions were ideal, smooth black ice and a sun that took the sting out of the air. One problem, there wasn’t a breath of air. Wings can’t fly without wind.

My ankles that flared outward told me it was time to go and rather than risk breaking something, I headed back to the fire, found a seat and took off my skates. I was on my way out when my granddaughter Sydney came racing up the drive. She was on a mission to get bandages and towels.

With the hint of a zephyr, Ted had tried the wing. He was reaching back when his skates caught something in the ice throwing him face forward into the ice with a loud crack. His friends raced to his aid and he had the sense to tell them to disburse for fear of breaking the ice. Blood was in his eyes and covered part of his face.

He made it back to the fire where he was stretched out on a bench. His friends piled on their coats to keep him warm while Dave examined the gash above his left eye and asked questions aimed at assessing his condition. Dave cleaned the wound and then we got Ted to the house and onto the couch. The bleeding stopped but Ted had an egg on his forehead with a nasty cut.

“It’s going to need stitches,” Dave said. He cited the options – go to the ER that would probably by a four-hour ordeal – or he could do it there. The down side was the absence of painkillers. As Ted considered the alternatives, Dave announced there was a bat in the cave. Erica, my daughter in-law and Ted looked confused. Dave pointed to my nose. I had a booger, and my nose was running. I left in search of a Kleenex. When I returned, Erica had handed Ted a squeegee ball – next best thing to biting a bullet – and we left the room for Dave to perform his artistry.

The following morning, Ted was sharing the image of Dave’s good work and planning his next wing on ice with knee and elbow pads and, of course, a hockey goalie’s helmet. I should have guessed a “scratch,” albeit one requiring seven stitches, wouldn’t stop him. But then he’s got the support of caring friends, plus an ER doc and that is powerful.

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