The irrigation canal stretches into the distance, perfect for waterskiing: two kilometres long, ten metres wide, ruler-straight, almost as large as Yuwonderie’s main canal. There’s a gentle breeze wafting in from the north, enough to ripple the surface. Eggs splashes water onto his face, then eases himself into the canal, feeling its sun-warmed embrace. It’s Sunday, and his supervisor at the Wholesalers has let him off early. The others were already here waiting, preparing,
Eggs keen to go first, his friends happy to let him. And now all is ready for this summer’s challenge: the curve. He has the ski, the towrope handle. He wriggles his feet into the soft rubber toe pieces, leans back, pushes the tip of the ski above the surface, curling himself into a ball, an astronaut on a launch pad.
On the bank, Johnny Titchfield is driving the farm truck, while Pete Allsop is the go-between in the back tray. Eggs gives the thumbs-up, Pete yells, ‘Take the slack!’ and Johnny edges the vehicle forward, along the path above the right-hand bank, the tightening rope emerging from the water.
‘Gun it!’ yells Pete, and Johnny floors it. The truck lurches into motion, and Eggs is all concentration: the wrench to the shoulders, the pressure on his legs, pushing ever so slightly to get up and stay upright in the narrow canal as the truck gathers speed, hanging on, edging the ski to counter the rope’s sideways pull. Avoiding the banks. And then he’s up, in equilibrium, accelerating down the canal, Pete yelling his encouragement, Johnny struggling to keep the speed constant on the runnelled track.
Eggs feels the thrill of it, the exhilaration, water spraying and wind in his face, tearing down the canal, orange trees to his left, grapevines to his right. Now they’re moving fast, the truck reaching cruising speed, and there’s not a lot to it, the narrow canal allowing no room for slalom. He enjoys the moment, taking a hand from the crossbar to wave to Pete, to demonstrate his mastery.
A family of ducks sees him coming and bursts into flight as he slices through them, laughing…