Book Excerpt: Quarry Jump

24 Apr

{I will be posting a few powerful excerpts from “The Dad Connection” this week. I hope you enjoy – if you’re interested in ordering a copy for yourself, visit here! This is part one of the selection “Quarry Jump”.}

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“Dad, remember when you told us about how you used to jump off the cliff in the sand pit when you were young?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I wanna go do it.”

Ian was about 12 years old and I had just picked him up from his friend’s house. He and his buddies had been talking about doing “crazy” things and Ian, in his attempt to represent himself as crazy too, ended up telling them he jumped off cliffs; now he needed to make himself an honest man.

I told him that I did not know of any sand pit cliffs in the area, but I had heard about an old stone quarry just north of Boston, where kids jumped into the water off some of the protruding ledges. He asked if I would take him over the weekend. Max, my younger son, overheard the conversation and wanted in, so I agreed to take them both.

When we arrived early on Saturday morning, there were already several older kids jumping into the quarry and empty beer cans scattered about. They were jumping off of two large, flat rocks that jutted out at different heights over the deep, clear, green water. When stone is quarried, the cutters make straight cuts at right angles, creating clean drops often as high as a hundred feet in some quarries, depending on the amount of accumulated rainwater. The bottom of a quarry is solid stone. Rain and surface runoff flow into the pit, creating a reservoir of clean but greenish rainwater. It is strikingly beautiful in a strange way because it has a green glow in the sun and a mirror-like surface reflecting the shear stone rock faces.

At this particular quarry, the first stone ledge was about fifteen feet above the surface of the water. This was an easy jump and the most popular. The second ledge was approximately twice the height and there were fewer kids jumping from there. The third flat rock was eight or ten feet higher and was set back, requiring jumpers to get a running start to leap out and clear the sides of the quarry. Even the steep climb to get there was tricky. This was quite dangerous, and nobody was jumping from there, certainly not us. That is where most of the beer cans were. I could see Ian watching the older kids on the second ledge and trying to find an acceptable reason in his head why not to jump. After about an hour of swimming and goofing around in another area of the quarry, I said it was time to jump or go home. The three of us hiked up the cut back path to the first ledge and, after a few looks over the edge, we jumped. Max was wary and nervous but he went because Ian and I went. It was immediately exhilarating and fun, so we did this a number of times, until Ian said he wanted to jump from the next higher rock. I looked at him and asked if he was sure. He said, “Yeah…why not?” I could tell he was acting.

Tune in next week for the rest of the story.

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