- Episode 2
- While Mort and Mike went back to the cabin with Mal to change into their swimming trunks, Agnes and Mel turned over the rowboat and put the oars in the bottom.
- “We could row out to that diving board and pull the trampoline behind the boat. Then you and Mal can try jumping from the diving board to the trampoline,” Agnes suggested to Mel.
- “Neat idea, Mom. I think you and Dad can try too. It looks strong enough,” Mel answered.
- The three “boys” came back to the little beach carrying various pool toys, including two pool rings they had already blown up.
- “I trimmed Rufus’s nails just before we left, but I don’t want to take any chances on puncturing the trampoline before we get a chance to use it,” Mort said.
- So it was decided that Rufus would travel in the boat with the three adults, and Mort and Mike would take turns rowing. Mal and Mel got to ride along on the inflated platform, while Agnes watched from the back.
- "Can we jump up and down on it now?" Mal asked, when they arrived at the opposite end of the pond.
- "No, you have to wait until we untie the trampoline from the boat. Otherwise you'll sink us," Agnes said as she untied the knot.
- "I want to jump off the diving board," Mel announced.
- "Me too," Mal echoed.
- Rufus the Water Dog
- Rufus had been looking straight ahead, in the boat's direction -- up until now. When he heard the excitement in the twins' voices, he jumped over the seats, leaped off the boat and onto the water trampoline.
- The impact of the big dog's body on the swim platform took everyone by surprise, Mal and Mel most of all. They bounced right off the platform and landed with big splashes in the water.
- "Rufus, for heaven's sake!" Agnes exclaimed. "Mal, Mel, are you all right?"
- Mort and Mike tried to make their way to the rear of the rowboat at the same time, nearly capsizing it before they realized what they were doing.
- "Wow! That was FUN! Let's do that again!" Both Mal and Mel were squealing with excitement as they paddled and splashed in the water.
- The three adults breathed a near-simultaneous sigh of relief.
- "Now will you listen when we tell you to wear your vests?" Agnes admonished, not quite suppressing a giggle.
- Rufus jumped into the water to join the twins while Agnes was still speaking.
- “Oh, no. Getting the children out of the water is one thing, but wet dog...” Mort began.
- “Look, a ladder,” said Mike, who returned to the front of the rowboat. He pointed to a flexible ladder dangling into the water from the posts that supported the diving board. The diving board was high enough that there was no danger of the twins hitting their heads as they pulled themselves out of the water.
- "This would be a good time for both of you to swim up to the ladder and get out of the water. I'm sure Rufus will follow you. It will be easier to get him into the boat or the trampoline from land. Wet dogs are too heavy to lift," said Agnes.
- "We're still going to play here, aren't we?" Mal asked.
- "Sure. We'll all have fun playing in the water. But the water is deep here and we need to teach Rufus how to climb out when he gets tired. He doesn't have a life vest," Agnes explained.
- The twins "dog paddled" to the ladder and climbed up onto the grass, which had been trimmed around the area of the diving board. Predictably, Rufus followed the twins to the pond's edge. From there, he easily scrambled up to the twins, as the water was only several inches lower than the land. The three adults also climbed out easily from the boat. Mort pulled the boat away from the diving board area and tied it to a bush that was overhanging the water.
- “You must have been surprised to find yourself in the air and then in the water before you were ready,” Mike commented to Mal and Mel. He thought this would be an excellent time for a short lesson in physics that the twins might actually remember.
- “It happened so fast, Grandpa,” Mal said.
- “But we weren’t bouncing. We just popped up when Rufus jumped on the trampoline,” Mel observed.
Trampolines and Physics
- That’s right. When Rufus jumped down onto the trampoline, you jumped up, right? A fellow named Newton made some observations that are now called Newton's laws of motion, and I believe you've just demonstrated all three of them," Mike said.
- "Laws? I didn't know there were laws about stuff like that, Mel said.
- "These kind of laws aren't part of a legal system," Mort tried to explain. "They are some of the laws of physics that help explain why something happens the way it does.
- Mal wanted to confirm what he thought he heard his father say. "So we broke three laws at once?"
- "You didn't break any laws, Mal. You proved some laws of physics; Newton’s three laws of motion," Mike tried to explain. “As I recall from my days at flight school, the first law says something like, ‘A body stays at rest until a force acts upon it.’ You didn’t move until Rufus landed on the trampoline and the air he pushed down, pushed you up.”
- “That’s right,” said Mort. And you met law number 3 too. ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.’ The air that Rufus pushed down on one side pushed up where you were sitting and that made you move.”
- “That’s neat, Dad,” Mal said.
- “What’s the second law, Mort? I can’t remember,” Agnes asked.
- “That’s the one that says something like ‘A force on a body is a function of the body's mass and velocity.’ For now, it’s easier if you think of ‘mass’ as ‘weight’ and ‘velocity’ as ‘speed.’ If Rufus just walked onto the trampoline, instead of jumping on it, the air would have moved very slowly, and nobody would end up in the water,” Mike explained.
- “Ah, yes. Fascinating,” said Agnes. “I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with physics today, the laws of motion, even gravity and buoyancy. Watch”
- Agnes dove in the water. and floated on her back "Come on in, the water's fine, and it's hot out there," she called, beckoning to the others.
- "Can I jump from the diving board now, Dad?" Mal asked.
- "Hon, it's deep enough for Mal to dive in, isn't it?" Mort called out to Agnes.
- "Can't see or touch bottom. Didn't you say Al told you it was up to 15 feet deep?"
- "Probably in the middle, not necessarily at the edge here. But if you can't see bottom, it should be ok," Mort responded.
- Mal climbed to the top of the steps leading to the diving board and hesitated. It felt a lot higher than he expected. He was well above Mel's head and the water looked really far below. In reality, it was about five feet, but it could have been 500, the way Mal felt. They swam at beaches and at their local YMCA, but Mal never paid much attention to the diving boards.
- "What's the matter, Mal, chicken?" his sister taunted.
- "Of course not, silly. I'm just trying to decide which way to jump," Mal retorted.
- Mike instinctively knew the problem and had an idea that might make it easier for Mal to jump in.
- "Whatever you do, don't do a belly flop," Mike warned. "From that height, the water will feel like you've hit concrete. Why don't you dive feet first? You can even hold your nose with one hand and hold your other hand up to the sky, like you see the kids doing at the swimming holes in those old-time movies."
- That worked. Mal walked to the end of the board and jumped feet first off the board and into the water. He hoped no one noticed his knees shaking as he left the relative safety of the board.
- "Yay, I did it!" Mal shouted.
- "Some dive!" Mel snorted.
- "Ok, let's see you do better," Mal challenged.
- Mel quickly climbed up the steps, stepped onto the diving board, walked to its edge and jumped feet first into the water, all without a moment's pause.
- "Now that's what I call 'fluid movement,'" Agnes said, applauding.
- Mort couldn't help but groan. "Don't worry, son. The afternoon's young. You'll have plenty of time to learn how to dive."
- "You next, Dad," Mel called out.
- "Let me come up first," Agnes said as she swam over to the ladder in the water. "Then Dad can go in and I'll keep an eye on Rufus."
- Agnes was quite sure her father-in-law wouldn't be interested in diving off the board, but she wanted to make sure he didn't feel stranded up there on the grass while everyone else was in the water. She wanted to encourage him to simply sit down and lower himself into the pond.
- Mort climbed the steps of the diving board at a deliberate pace and walked confidently to the edge of the board. He looked over his right and then his left shoulder, as though waiting for traffic to pass. The twins giggled at their father's antics. Mort bounced once on the diving board, then jumped high in the air, folded his body over and hands outstretched, dove smoothly into the pond.
- "Wow, Dad. Where did you learn to dive like that?" Mal asked, impressed.
- "Self defense, Mort answered. I learned about belly flops the hard way, right Dad?" he asked Mike.
- Mike waved in agreement as he lowered himself into the pond. "Nice cool water," he said.
- As Agnes was standing on the grass with Rufus, she had an idea. "Mal, Mel, how would you like some flying lessons to go with your physics lessons?"
- The twins, floating in the water, looked at each other quizzically and shrugged. "Sure, Mom."
- "Mort, would you please push the trampoline to the other side of the diving board, but away from the land,?" Agnes asked. Then to the twins, "Now, climb back up on the trampoline. I'll tell you where to stand."
- Mort knew his wife well enough to know what she had in mind. He pushed the trampoline just far enough away from the diving board to where he knew Agnes could easily jump to it. He then instructed Mal and Mel to climb up and stand at the far end of the trampoline, facing toward the pond.
- "Hon, are you sure...?" Mort asked.
- "I jumped UP onto the fence at the farm, didn't I? Down is a lot easier than up; besides, the trampoline is a much easier target," Agnes interrupted.
- The twins guessed what was coming. "Can we watch Mom jump?" Mel asked
- "If you do, you'll be flying backwards. That might be better after you've tried it a few more times. After all, Mom's heavier than Rufus is, so you'll be flying higher than when he jumped from the boat. If you remember, that's the second law of motion."
- "I heard that," Agnes said, pretending her feelings were hurt.
- "I'l be right here, just in case you get a lot of water in your nose. Be sure to keep your mouths closed," Mort told the twins.
- "This is really NEAT!" Mal exclaimed. "Goodie. I can't wait," Mel giggled.
- "Me either," Mort and Mike both said.
- Agnes climbed up the steps, walked to the edge of the diving board and jumped - feet first, of course - onto the trampoline.
- The children bounced high in the air, giggling and screaming with delight. "Whee!"
- Agnes jumped up and down on the trampoline, enjoying herself ON the trampoline almost as much as her children did flying OFF of it.
- The next thing she knew...whoosh! Agnes was in the water.
- She turned around and couldn't quite believe what she saw. Rufus! On the trampoline. And then in the water.
Mike and Mort were laughing so hard they could hardly talk.
- "Rufus...he...Rufus...ha, ha...Rufus followed you...up the steps to the diving board...he must have..."
- "I get the picture," said Agnes. "Mal, Mel, are you all right?"
- "That was fantastic, Mom. Let's do it again!"
- They did. All afternoon. On the trampoline or in the water. The twins also learned to dive, along with getting a first-hand understanding of Newton's 3 laws of motion, not to mention the effects of gravity and their buoyancy in the water (thanks mostly to their orange vests.
- Five wet, tired humans and one wet, tired dog climbed out of the rowboat and onto the sand around four o'clock in the afternoon. Rufus and the twins napped on the trampoline during the short row back. Rowing slowly, Mort felt that the trip back was a lot longer than the row out a few hours earlier.
- "Looks like it's going to be an early evening," said Mike. "Not a bad thing. Fish bite best at dawn."
- After resting on the beach for a few minutes, Agnes stood up. "Ok, everybody. I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry. I'll go in and meet you all with towels at the water pump. We can wash this sand off and then dry up and change clothes before firing up the grill."
- Mort was thankful that he and Mike put up the tent earlier. And the whole family was grateful to Al for the two large grills just outside the cabin, and for providing the bags of charcoal, chimney starter and utensils in the storage area...bulky things they didn’t need to pack.
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iNTRODUCTION TO BOOK 2
INTRODUCTION TO THE BIOFABLES SERIES