One of the impulses that led me to visualize this journey was the constant thought of life flowing past me and calling me to jump in and find out what the journey could bring. I’ve been hearing the rushing water and smelling the river for almost a year now. The pictures in my head have brought back memories of water, and what those bodies of it have meant in my life. I remember the creek where all the kids swam that I was too afraid to go into, and the joy of sitting on the banks of the Mississippi, watching the fireworks going off on the boat in the center of the great river. I thought of weekends at Lake Ponchartrain and those spontaneous stops my folks would make at little sandbars off the highway that gave us all a break from long drives. We played in the sand and walked in the water to cool us off from the beating Louisiana heat.
After my children were born, summers most often meant Fort Pickens, the national seashore outside of Gulf Breeze, Florida. Alan and the girls would swim all day while I read, sheltered from the sun, with the sound of the waves providing a magical backdrop for my literary adventures. In the evenings we walked the beach, watching dolphins play and ships move far out in the water of the Atlantic. I had sat by these same waters as a kid, watching my grandmother fish off the pier and collecting sand dollars and seashells from the shallow pools nearby. Then we went one day to the Gulf of Mexico side of the park, the girls and I along with a few special friends, to scatter Alan’s ashes in his favorite diving place. It helps to know he’s guarding the waters he loved so much.
I’ve stepped into more waters since that day and they have marked my soul with their mysteries. I got elected one day to help a woman survey a flood plain for the Animas River. She handed me a pair of waders that came up to my neck and a tall stick and told me to walk across the river from bank to bank. Okay, so it sounded like more fun than it turned out to be. I spent a lot of the day worrying about what might be swimming into the loose waders and my legs were jelly by late afternoon. But I feel an intimacy with the Animas now that I didn’t before. My water adventures these days consist mostly of watching my grandson as he hunts “crawdads” out of the stream that runs through Brookside Park. I sit under a shade tree and watch the way his face lights up when he finds a big one and I know the water’s calling him too. May the journey it takes him on be amazing.