I’ve heard it said that old men are occasionally allowed to wax sentimental. I definitely pass the age threshold, and writing about Swan Creek and Bull Creek back to back trigger the sentimentality meter. So here goes. I apologize in advance!
About a month ago, April 20th to be exact, the hands of the clock turned back decades. It was Betty and Todd, Patrick and Benjamin, on the river together again. Except this day, which was arguably the most incredibly beautiful day of the spring, roles were reversed. Patrick was steering Betty through rapids and Ben was gliding Todd along the edge of fishing holes.
The day dawned cool, crisp and sparkling, which is exactly what Bull Creek was. Crystal green waters shown down to mottled rock bottoms, gin clear, spring clean. Redbud were fuller and brighter than I had ever seen them, dogwood popped in front of our eyes, and leaf out proceeded as ordered. I could have sat and stared forever, but that is not what our boys had in mind.
Both obviously have wonderful and understanding wives to allow them a full pass with mom and dad on a day such as this, abandoning kids and chores in the pursuit of new memories.
When I speak of past decades and role reversals it is simply a reference to the old facts of floating for our family. After we advanced from all four of us in one canoe, Betty would have been paddling Patrick around, and Todd maneuvering Ben in to snatch a tiny turtle by hand as it lay sunning on a big rock. All of this between frequent stops to jump in and splash about with Coco the dog.
I could almost see it in my mind’s eye as we floated along in the swift current.
But that was then, and this is now.
Both boys, now comfortably middle aged, know what they are doing in fast water, can handle a paddle, a fishing pole and sip a cold beverage between strokes and casts. They know when to head to the river, and when to stay off of it.
Betty and I, north of seventy, share pride in that. We have raised them right on the river, as is the case of our daughter who lives too far from home to join us today. We trust that they all will pass such skills and judgement to their own children over time. And more importantly, that this beautiful Ozarkian creek and others like it, will be there for them to treasure, and share with theirs. It won’t be easy. But it must be.
I told you this was going to be crassly sentimental. I can only hope the boys won’t read this until we are long gone. They would likely laugh out loud. But the memories are real and deep, and have long been a part of our family culture and bonding.
An additional bonus, as if one was needed on this absolutely perfect day, was the 17” smallmouth who took pity on me and came out from behind a rock to play. Fortunately Ben scooped him up for a photo before he got loose.
I guess another reason I feel so emotional writing and remembering is that less than two weeks later, two young men drowned on that same stretch of river, as they tried float with a fourteen foot rise.
Betty and I have been with both boys when they were young in flood waters, made risky decisions we shouldn’t have, and been spared the direst of consequences. The river is not to be trifled with. It can be as mean-spirited as beautiful, from one storm to the next.
But not this April day on Bull Creek, one that I will always treasure.
Coming next, June 15, 2019 – ANOTHER PIG CAFO STORY
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