Tag Archives: river

Sparkles on the Water

Watch the river gliding past, light flashing on smooth stones close under the surface. Droopy weeping willows drift by, their leafy hair hanging down into cool pools of shade.

A cornfield in open sun, making sugar from light and air, beyond a grassy knoll at river’s edge. Mud thrown up on the banks from spring snowmelt and summer rainstorms. Water gently lapping away at slippery rocks.

Uh-oh. That’s not calm water up ahead.

Sharp, glinting river, tumbling over rocks and the occasional log. Rushing like the wind. Canoe grating on the bottom. Skidding to a halt. Now the world’s caught us again, and the river is dancing away on its own.

Bother. Get out and walk.

After too many awkward steps we’re floating downriver, calmly watching the world drift by. The surface is still and flat and motionless but for a few eddies near the bank. We’re going under a bridge. Lapping water echoes off the concrete underside just as the sunlight does, sending liquid patterns dancing above our heads.

Blue sky. Ancient trees reaching for the sun. Their roots are in the river. They won’t last forever.

Did I hear thunder? What’s that big black cloud doing in our nice blue sky?

Quick! Paddle for the lake!

The sunny sparkling world goes eery still as the cloud covers the sun. The first rush of wind tears through the treetops, sending loose leaves sailing through the air. Then the rain comes, first a patter, then a pour, and the still water dances all around us.

Blink. Raindrops shroud the banks. They plummet into the river, wash the trees, cleanse the air, and unite the world gone still.

Our canoe is a bathtub. It’s nice to have my toes in the water. Sunbeams reach around the clouds as the rain keeps coming. The river is shallow and wide. The canoe hisses as she floats over aquatic plants, land made of solid green and no substance down below.

Lake Delta stretches out before us, a puddle for giants, a playground for canoers.


This Side of the River

Shannon swung down from her horse’s back, landed with practiced ease on the ground. She took the reigns and led him down to the river at the base of the ranch. The herd was far off, but their peaceful lowing carried across the prairie.

There, boy,” she said, patting the horse’s flank as it drank from the shallows. “Drink deep.”

The last rays of sun stretched across the far side of the river as she walked down the bank, feet crunching pebbles. She sat down, took off her hat and laid it beside her. Two brown braids hung down her back. She sat motionless and listened to the water until the first stars came out.

It’s over,” she whispered at last. Propped up on her hands, she leaned back to the sky. Diamonds slid from her eyes as she tried to smile. “I’m not ready.”

She clenched the gravel, flung it forward into the stream. Ten kerplunks in the dark. She dug her heels into the riverbank, got up. Pulled off the boots and left them on dry land. She stepped into the stream. The water felt good.

It was final, this time. They weren’t even going to try chemo. Hopeless, they said. Six months at most before your cells burst apart.

You always knew it was going to end sometime.

Not like this,” she said to the river. “Not so soon.”

You didn’t used to feel this way about it.

When I was young,” she murmured, “it was different.” The river swallowed her words.

Now life’s caught a hold of you. Now you have so much to lose.

I can’t!” Her voice echoed from the far bank, dropped again to a whisper. “I’m not strong enough…”

You don’t have to be.

I’m afraid.”

You don’t need to be.

So afraid.” Tears welled from her eyes, but her face betrayed nothing.

Everyone’s been here before.