Ditches tempt all little boys

Sunday teased us that spring actually might be happening.
The rain gutters melted out. The downspouts were shooting water across my sidewalks into the banks of snow that were ready to soak up all that moisture.
I suspect that the water eventually worked its way across the yard and onto the sidewalk, where it drained onto the road.
I now live on Second Street East but growing up, we lived on Third behind the arena and along each side of the roadway there were deep ditches. The ditches captured the water, and the water rose until it almost met at the centre of the street from both sides or flowed over driveways.
As a youngster, we all had black rubber boots that were intended to keep our feet dry. Every year as you grew up, the boots became taller—matching the growth of your foot.
We would stand side by side and measure how high up our boots came up our legs against the other kids on the block.
There is something tempting about ditches to little boys. There is the dare of proving how far you can wade into the ditch without getting your feet wet.
There is the question: “Can I cross the frozen top of that ditch first thing in the morning without going through?” And there is the other question: “Is there any water under the remnants of that snowbank at the edge of the driveway?”
In an age of outdoor discovery, my friends and I clearly answered those questions every year until the road was paved and storm sewers were put in.
We never calculated the impact that weight might have on the ice of the ditch. Always being a little rotund, I hesitated while the younger kids had scampered across the pond from the sidewalk side to the road without breaking through.
There may have been some slight cracks as they hurried across. Invariably, however, when it came to my turn, more often than not I ended up breaking through. And if that next step was fast enough, my foot might not have gotten wet.
The game then turned to who could cross the ditch the most times without getting wet. Eventually everyone was soaked.
We did learn that there was water under those piles on the side of the ditch, and often a boot became lodged in the snow and water and a parent was called upon to rescue it.
Moms and dads often ended up with wet feet rescuing those boots.
We all promised that we wouldn’t go over the tops of our boots. We all claimed that those new higher boots were more than enough to walk dry foot through the deepest puddle.
I doubt that our parents ever believed us.
It was always a sad day when the town showed up to thaw all those driveway culverts. Every mom smiled.
The water disappeared in a matter of hours. The moms on the block probably wondered why it took so long for the town to arrive.

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