Growing up in Minnesota, summer meant jumping in Bay Lake to play to my heart’s content. One day, my dad came home from the marina with a huge inner tube in our yellow speedboat. Probably made for a colossal tractor tire, I could stretch out on that inflated, rubbery ring and float for ages. Or I would bounce on it with a friend until one – or both of us – tumbled, laughing, into the water.

Steph and Barb on Crystal Lake a few years ago.

My other favorite activity was jumping with my friends on the trampoline on the beach of a nearby resort. Luckily, the resort owners knew my family and tolerated our frequent visits.

When I think back on those times, I wonder if I had an excess of nervous energy or was simply an active kid. I sure liked being in motion, particularly if there was a bounce involved. Maybe all that ricocheting around kept me in shape. I didn’t think of myself as athletic, but in fourth grade I was one of a handful of children at my school to be given the Presidential Fitness Award, a program promoted by President Kennedy. I sewed the patch they gave me on my jacket, not sure what to make of it.

No longer taking my health or energy for granted, I now appreciate that brief, unexpected recognition of what our bodies can do for us. And I still like to float on water, preferably with a cushy inner tube on which I can lean back and watch the sky.

Barbara Terao

Barbara Wolf Terao is from Northfield, Minnesota and now lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest. She’s written a memoir called Reconfigured and posts random observations on her Of the Earth blog. This piece was posted on on May 4, 2022.



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  2. susanshable

    Nothing finer than the perfectly sized inner tube in the water on a sunny day. We would be have been great friends had we known one another in our earliest days! How happy I am to count you among my friends now. 🤗

    1. BTerao Post author

      Susan, you are a dear! And a lion. I am glad to know you, too, and to have the grace and benefit of your friendship.

  3. Betsy Fuchs

    I remember floating on inner tubes in the small lake we visited summers when I was a kid. Then I took up swimming and lately water aerobics. But this reminded me of how soothing water can be, maybe I have to get back to simply floating in an inner tube. Thank you Barbara.


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