Monday, February 21, 2011

My creek.

If you grew up hanging out with me, then you went to my creek. I loved my creek. I spent countless hours journeying upstream, downstream, building dams, racing leaves, crossing bridges, jumping rocks, catching crayfish, watching snakes.

So many afternoons, I'd venture down the street, my ever-loyal cat Tiger following me. We'd sit on the big rock and agonize over whatever drama seemed so important to a pre-teen. Hearing the babble of the water always calmed me.

Then there were the days I'd pack a bag and head upstream, determined to hike all the way to where the creek met the river. I'm not even sure that even happens in our county, but I was going to find it. Each time, I'd go a little further. I'd find a new split in the creek bed and choose one way to keep strolling. The next time, I'd try the other.

There were times the bank was taller than me. I'd just plod along in the water. Unafraid. Tiptoeing around deeper pools. Using random rocks as my stepping stones. Stopping to note the size of the crayfish or minnows along the way.

I cleared so many pine straw clog ups. I built so many little barriers behind which to create a little play puddle. I'd roll up my pants and wade in. I saw snakes. I remember thinking - snake! My alarm lasted a few moments and I was back to my rambling.

We went back to the creek a few weekends back with Asher. My sister and I went straight to our favorite spots. We disagreed over the placement of the footbridge. I was certain it was relocated; she was certainn it was not. We smiled at the bamboo forest. We walked Asher over and around the rocks. We let him see the waterfalls.

Thinking back, I was such a brave kid. I was so curious and so full of wonder. I loved nature. I needed it. It never occurred to me to be scared of the things that could have hurt me at my creek. And there were so many things.

If I walked barefoot in the stream now - if I dared - I'd be so careful to look for a snake that I'd miss the feel of the smoothed pebbles under my feet. If I made a leaf boat and raced against it my sister's, I'd probably just let it remain stuck in that waterfall. As a child, I'd reach in and set the boat free to continue its adventure. If the bank got too tall today, I'd likely turn back.

As a mother, I cringe at the thought of Asher visiting the tiny creek in our Raleigh neighborhood and trying his hand at creekhood. Granted, Raleigh isn't Louisburg but even if the situation was identical, I'd be so worried.

All of this to say, I vow to make a big effort to not let my fears interfere with Asher's adventures. I want to remind myself of all that I learned and felt and explored as I stumbled around that creek as a child. I want my child to have memories like that. I want him to go back to a special place with his children and tell them about all of his quests. I want him to have his creekhood.

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