Anna loved all creatures. She not only cared for them, but she had a deep affection for them that was at the same time beautiful and a little annoying. It was beautiful when she was caring for a creature that was wounded, defenseless, or ugly. It was annoying when she showed affection for a rat that we were trying “get out of the house” or for the red ants that covered our front porch. The ones with the extremely painful bite.
This love for creatures manifested in a several ways. One of them was in her choice of future profession. She had decided early on that she wanted to be an artist and a marine biologist. She did not know how she would do both. I suggested that she dive and study the undersea creatures. Then, after coming back up, she could paint pictures of them. She thought that might work.
One hitch in the plan was that Anna would need to learn to dive. She was already a good swimmer. She was not afraid of the water. The next step was to take her snorkeling so she could actually get a first-hand view of the sea creatures. On a trip to Bali I took Sam and Anna out to a reef so we could try snorkeling. We found the equipment and someone who would take us out in a boat. Sam and Anna both wore vests. Sam was already big enough that he fit in the mask and snorkel pretty well. Anna’s was perhaps a little big for her, but she wanted to try. And off we went.
We went out and saw some beautiful fish, anenomes, and other creatures. I tried to stay within eyesight of both kids at all times, but I was favoring Anna a bit. At one point I came up for a look around and I saw Anna upright in the water, crying out for me. I quickly swam over to her, grabbed ahold of her and brought her to the boat. She was coughing and sputtering. She had obviously taken in some water. After I got her settled down a bit and she had stopped crying I asked her what happened. She told me that she thrown up in the water. When I asked her how that happened she explained. “Oh Daddy, I was just trying to rest a little bit. I decided to float on my back and enjoy the sunshine. It was so beautiful out and the sky was so blue. I was so happy, and so I took in a deep breath and . . .”
“Anna, was the snorkel still in your mouth?” I asked.
“Yes, and all of a sudden my mouth was full of salt water and I threw up.”
I couldn’t help but start laughing, picturing Anna floating on her back with her snorkel stuck back down in the ocean. I gave her a big hug and said I was glad she was okay. She took the rest of the time off and rested in the boat. She learned her first snorkeling lesson the hard way.