Creek walking on a summer day

30 May

I forgot what a lovely thing mud squishing between the toes is. I went walking in a creek today. I started out with my rubber flip-flops on, but after a few minutes I realized I could get better grip on the rocks without them. So I slipped them off and left them on the grassy bank. I began shyly, avoiding the rushing water, like it would hurt me. I leaped onto one dry rock poking out of the water like a big dinosaur egg. Then I tested the next rock, putting half my weight onto it to see if it wobbled. It didn’t. I went like this, testing and stepping, testing and stepping, until I crossed the stream with getting wet. A few times the water licked at my feet, and it felt cool.  My little sister did the same. “This one’s wobbly!” she’d call out, a few steps ahead of me, when she found a wobbly rock to avoid. I followed her wet foot prints. She stopped on one large, sturdy rock, submerged a few inches under the water, and just stood there. “This feels great!” she said. I joined her and felt the cool stream water rushing up to my ankles, flowing down stream, and the rough rock beneath by bare skin. From then on I am more carefree, and I step gingerly from rock to rock, even the ones underneath the water.“Why don’t I do this kind of thing more often?” I thought. I guess I don’t live by any streams. My sister brought buckets and nets, to catch little sunfish. She squats on a rock, floating the net in the water. She jumps up with a wriggling white net: “I caught one!” and plops it into the bucket next to the creek. When we leave, four little fish swim in the bucket.We sit for awhile on the warm, wooden dock nearby and let the sun soak into our skin. Our feet dip in and out of the water. We talk about nothing in particular. It’s the most perfect afternoon I’ve had in a long time.

As I drive through the countryside, on my way home back into the city, I put on my sunglasses only to take them off a moment later. They color the green, making it muted. I want to see it in its full, summertime beauty—with the naked eye. I keep the glasses off. Yellow flowers brush across fields next to dilapidated barns. Cows moo as I drive past, roosters crow. I pass through little towns where the speed limit slows to 30 mph, and delis and pubs pop up on the side of the road. I pass out of them a few minutes later, and the speed’s back to regular. The only unpleasant thing I see are the road kill, deer, fox and little creatures on the side, or in the middle, of the road. I wonder about all these little towns dotting New York State, and the people who live in them. The towns that take two minutes to drive through. Like the town I drove through that had a sign in front of an establishment, “Al’s Barber Shop,” except instead of hung in front, it sat on the ground out front, and looked like it’d been there forever. The place looked busy. This is the forgotten New York, as different from New York City as California is to Texas. These are the rolling hills of Upstate New York, where farmers produce milk products; grow corn; and harvest maple syrup. It takes only an hour to get back into Buffalo, and in the suburbs, the houses look strangely close together. And I wish I had a creek.

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One Response to “Creek walking on a summer day”

  1. Grayquill June 26, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    NICE! A stream can takes one back to a more carefree time where the waterskippers swirled here and there untroubled by the intruder that came to wet a line. I was there for a moment. Nice post.

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