Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Moments

Do you ever experience a moment of memory coming to you out of nowhere ~ a memory of something long forgotten, forgotten perhaps since the day it happened ~ a memory that emerges from the dimmest recesses of your mind as an offering of a small respite from the complications of the present?

I had one the other day. It's been intense in my world -- Christmas was difficult; our son was mugged (he's doing well); our daughter leaves tomorrow for Chicago, London, Paris, and Prague (yes, the travel plans keep expanding and yes, her roommate's visa finally showed up, with only a few days to spare); I've written a paper and taken two exams; and now I have to study for exams and a paper in the two courses that I had to let slide completely for the past couple of weeks.

And in the middle of everything, one of those moments came to me, a moment out of my childhood, which in its rural midwest settng seems to have been lived in a completely different era, an era before Lessons and Sports Practices and Playdates:

We are playing in a creek several miles from home, my three brothers and I. We are probably about 10, 10 (I have a stepbrother exactly my age), 8 and 6, and my dad has brought us over to the creek in a truck. He likes this particular place for its huge chunks of flat, smooth rock, which he is unearthing and piling into the truck so that he can turn them into a patio at home ~ but they are too heavy for any of us to be of help. The sun is shining and we spash in the pools, skipping stones across the deeper ones and looking for crawdads in the shallows.

As I recall, we are unsuccessful in our unending and passionate search for snakes. We usually carry snakes up from the creek behind our own house and keep them in jars for a few days before we release them. I have no idea why. I suppose there is something primordial about the curve of a snake through the damp grass and the feel of a snake in one's hands; for whatever reason, we devote hours of our lives to the pursuit and capture of snakes. But there are none today. Perhaps they have retired in the face of chaos: the sounds of rocks being wrenched from the mud and clunking onto metal, accompanied by the voices of four noisy children.

A little cat appears on the edge of the meadow above the step banks of the creek. She is about to take a ride with the four of us in the bed of the truck; she will have a new home and be named Pigeon, since we already have a Pigeon named Cat.

The midafternoon summer sun always streams so perfectly across the creeks of the Midwest.

9 comments:

Kathy Doerge said...

What a delightful remembrance! I loved that you were transported there and took us with you ; )

Carol said...

I have similar memories of endless hours in the creek near our house with my brother, cousin, and their friends. I was generally the only girl in the group. We searched only for frogs and crawdads--no snakes allowed! I find myself reflecting often on the stark contrasts between my childhood and that of my children and find myself longing for much of the innocence of the 60s.

mompriest said...

I used to catch snakes in my great-grandmother's creek that ran in front of her farm in Idaho...garter snakes...

I love memories like these. especially when the rest of our lives are filled with fear and worry and hope....I hope your son continues to heal and that your daugher has a GREAT trip!

It's just really hard to let our children go and pray that they will be safe...

Lisa :-] said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emmapeelDallas said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Kathryn J said...

That was so beautifully written that I could feel the sun, hear the creek, and remember my own childhood.

I love the cat named Pigeon and the pigeon named Cat. Did your father finish the patio?

Kris said...

Very nice GG. Just what I needed to warm me up.

Katherine said...

I guess all of us Midwest girls have creek play in our past somewhere. It was some of our best times. This story reminded me so much of my sister Meg. She was the one who always loved the creepy crawlies best.

Thanks for sharing

sunflowerkat321 said...

That last comment was me...
:)