from my journal - July 5, 2005
This year summer seems to be slipping away, right out from under my nose. When I was a kid, summers were eternal. A weaving of long days spent in, on and around the river. Scaling rock walls, swimming under the bridge, canoeing and watching my dad fly fish in the evenings.
When he would catch a salmon, which was often, I would watch him intently as he cleaned it right there at the edge of the river, first taking his jackknife to the skin, removing the scales and fins and then a slit right up the belly. Patiently I would wait for the heart, a perfectly pink little muscle about the size of a scallop that he would drop into my small hands. I was both horrified and intrigued as it continued to pump. When it would slow down I’d give it a poke and watch it contract again. Finally, when poking would no longer produce results, I’d place it at the very edge of the water and wait for the eel brave enough to come that close to shore.
Today there is nothing but blue sky above me. I sit on my deck listening to a quiet breeze rustle the maple and birch trees above my head. Their beautiful cadence is highlighted by the song of a morning bird and the jump and chirp of squirrels as they play from limb to limb.
It appears that I am nostalgic today. Sometimes it is difficult as an adult to be present in these moments, so many competing thoughts seek to distract. And yet, it is these very moments that bring me back to those eternal summers. A quiet mind removes me, albeit temporarily, from an overscheduled life.
As a child I had great freedom. In my town I knew everyone and they knew me – in fact most of them were my cousins, however many times removed! There were few restrictions on where I could or couldn’t go; what I could or couldn’t do. Moving from one blessed blue sky day into the next, all the while turning more golden brown and bleached out blonde. I knew great joy and almost nothing of fear.
My imagination ran wild. I was certain that I alone owned the river. I took such pleasure in it. In late August the water level would drop, revealing the shallow flat rock bottom. I would skip from rock to rock, jumping over small pools of water caught away from the main channel, begging for a heavy rain to reunite them. Years before, my dad as a boy, had carved his name into those very rocks. I loved knowing that the paths I traveled were so connected to his. I had big dreams in those days, of what I am not even sure. Who can know the power of a child’s mind, simple and pure and unafraid.
Yesterday I had no inkling that today, over a creamy cup of coffee in my back yard, hundreds of miles from that river and years removed from childhood, I would rediscover this unexpected bliss. The power is always within us, sometimes hidden beneath years of unswept leaves and pine needles. That special place for each of us, where we know great joy and almost nothing of fear.