Over my shoulders the sun was unblinding as my cautious middle-aged sneakers walked through moss and a thousand and one spring beauties, shy trout lilies a delicate yellow in contrast to the bold dandelions of April. To the creek, once such a great divide between our swampy back yard and the woods. This was my playground, my safe place, my wonderland. It is where my daughter and her friends made secret witches' stews and later it is where my sons have forever memories of the legendary Deer Man of my brother's invention. Much later it has become a hand-me-down, join the club house, choose-your-own adventure place for my three grandsons.
Giving me no choice, the small peaceful song the creek sings beckons and I find lost loves and simple joys: tiny fish with big shadows, water striders that as children we called boat men, twisting vines and rotting tree stumps, a box turtle and two snakes. I relish these treasures! In my seven-year-old self's happy heart I name the turtle and want to keep it as a pet.
A fallen tree is a convenient bridge, when did this happen? Oh, the balancing act accomplished in five or six steps, the sudden red rubber boots and muddy memories of catching frogs and crayfish and digging for gold. For years I believed in the possibility of our own Gold Rush, ending up with buckets of clay, buckets of bones, bird skulls, feathers, and interesting stones.
Standing on the other side, drinking in the quiet peace and rustling potential, I feel cleansed in my soul or whatever that space is inside when you feel all is right with the world. Red-headed woodpecker tap-tap-taps a greeting as I head to the pond, the one true place where men in trucks tried over and over to control by draining, by spraying, but failed.
The collective memories of too many children, most long gone, moved away and grown-up, of skating and falling, mucking about until leeches were found on our legs. From the deep, the sadness we felt was called up in the form of a natural spring of childhood tears returning the pond and the smallest trickle we called our waterfall bringing the pond water down to join the creek, as Nature intended.
Glancing at the time, I head back to my mother's house, thankful that my parents gave us a love of both city and country. Blessed and satisfied, as if returning from a long journey, when all I needed was just outside the back door.