Monday, August 15, 2016

The Water (story of a creek hike continued)

My family went hiking by beautiful Clear Creek in west central Arizona this summer. You can read of our adventure in the post "A Creek Runs Through It" at my other blog. I'll share this excerpt here:

It was at this swimming hole that I shed frustration and felt joy while watching my children revel in the water, enjoying nature giddily. They splashed around and fought the current and scrambled up slippery rocks and waded through deep narrow places in the stream, laughing, and I was right behind them, reliving my childhood and drinking from the fountain of youth in the only and best way.

In that post I tried my best, as writers always do, to show just how that creek water made me feel as I watched my children play in it and pushed my own legs against its current joyfully, all of us fully engaged.

I'm attempting to do so again, because I didn't succeed the first time.

In talking about it with my husband Matthew one evening over port, I expressed the opinion that writers are not free to say that they don't have the words for an experience or feeling. We're supposed to find the words.

He disagreed.

In our conversation I rambled off adjectives, tired ones, insufficient ones, and still could not express fully how that fresh water made me feel. He told me to admit my wordlessness, use my weary adjectives, and let my readers imagine for themselves how astonishingly cool creek water pulsing against their legs on a dry, hot summer's day might make them feel.

For me it was a spiritual experience...

Perhaps it reminded me of the love that filled my youth, of the company of my siblings, parents and family pets, of a childhood ensconced in nature...

But there was also the mystical temperature of the water.

I tried so hard to find words fit to describe it. Unlike every other creek I have ever known in my life that makes you shrink from its stark chill, momentarily shocked even on a scorching day, this creek's water was stunningly cool in a way that drew you in deeper, made the cold and the damp a vital, invigorating part of that moment, and made you feel wholly revitalized as you walked on the slippery surface beneath its powerful current.

Instead of making me recoil at first entry, it made me feel reborn, super-humanly alert, in harmony. I wanted to wade in it all day with my four happy children.

My little guy waits
Later, after hiking up the creek to some lovely spots, I sat for several long minutes atop a red rock at that original swimming hole, staring into the deep, eddying green below and trying to find the courage to push my body off into that inscrutable water.

My son Berto and daughter Ana had already done it easily and encouraged me to go ahead.

When I finally dove in as we were supposed to leave, my brave plunge reminded me of baptism. For a few seconds I was thrust into darkness as if into death. Then I pushed out of that beautiful pristine water, more fully alive.

And I thanked God for the memories of that creek explored and that day enjoyed in the company of my family.


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