A boy I knew was on tv last night. He stood in the middle of his flooded workshop and I wondered why I had never noticed how much he takes after his mother. I was pleased by his acceptance and fatalism of spring floods and wondered how we got to be older than our parents.
I thought about the sound of his laughter as we fished and he ran down the slippery shale river bed, how he was rushed to the hospital when he got stung by a bee, the intensity of his blue eyes when we talked under the pine trees, warm memories of his artist dad's encouragements (whom I mentioned in my 2nd blog post ever here), his grandma, the fact that he was the only boy my dad actually encouraged me to play with...
He is undoubtedly unaware that I keep a warm spot in my heart for him. I never said anything of this to him and we haven't talked for a long time. We got on the school bus and sat with different kids. He was oblivious to my teenaged pining as he looked at other girls. Even so, I know there's part of him that keeps me in his heart too. That's part of the thing about growing up in the sticks with very few kids around. We are connected in the a way that's just a step away from siblings. We know each other's beginnings.
When my dad died when I was a teenager, the importance of knowing someone who knew Dad mattered to me. I got older, fewer and fewer people remembered him. More important people in my life died, and even fewer people remembered them. It felt like my life was flying away like dandelion fluff in the wind.
The friend of my youth lives in his parents' house. They're gone now too. Just down the road, my brother lives in our childhood home. When the world changes and we miss the people who have died, there's security in knowing that some things stay the same. Chris holds down a part of my reality by keeping his parents' house and wistfully looking at the mess in his workshop while shrugging his shoulders about the inevitability of spring floods. Maybe I should tell him so? But then I wonder if that's a lot more than he feels like shouldering when he's got a mess to clean up. It just is.
The spring flood is something that connects us River Rats. It's been a hard winter, and those of us who love the river have watched it and wondered when the moment would come. We wondered how strong the water would roar past things we hold dear. We all find a way to experience the flood in a soul-deep way.
When people see the river in the summer, they say "it's such a pretty little creek". They don't know the power that's hidden there until they see 15' of roaring water rushing past with huge slabs of ice and ancient trees caught in the torrent. The ice jams the riverbed and the water oozes up. The power of the silent water is even more alarming. That's the stuff that really wrecks houses and sweeps things away.
The annual flood is catharsis. It reminds us that Nature is stronger than anything human-made. It sweeps things away, makes a mess, and the silt left behind is the fodder for new growth. It's an end, but also a beginning. Spring is around the corner with new opportunities!