Sitting, blankly staring into whatever is in front of you, not actually seeing what you are looking at. You begin a slow thought. The thought builds and builds. You start seeing flashes of a memory. Then the little details begin to fill in. The pink shirt being worn by your sister, the haircut your brother has, that goofy smile you have. You’re starting to recognize the location. It’s almost as if you are there again, reliving a time when stresses affected you differently. You were happy, you had your siblings around, and you laughed a lot.
I have memories like this from time to time. Not always the same, but just sitting and thinking how it used to be. But a memory I had this morning, really turned my day around. And this specific memory, to some capacity has been on my mind a lot lately. It eases my mind, and gives me a sense of comfort.
I don’t think the memory is of a specific day, more like a summer combined to make it seem like a specific day. The memory is of me and one of my brothers, one of my sisters, and a couple cousins at my aunt’s house.
Let me set the plot. My aunt lived on some property, there was pasture, trees, and a creek. Basically, as a child in the country, the coolest place ever. There were cows, a donkey named Nino, and some horses. There were wasps, bee’s, spiders and snakes. But to us around there, it was just considered outside. The house wasn’t this magnificent mansion built on this perfectly watered lawn, and rolling hills. No, this was a house that was built by the people that live there. Very simple, but elegant nonetheless. This was a functional house, with some southern charm. No central heat and air, just a wood burning stove, and some window a/c units. The front porch was large and seated several people, with a porch swing and rockers. Two large shade trees in front made the perfect entrance for anyone who visited.
So, goes the memory. I always think back to being around 10 or 11. I was a lot to deal with I am sure. Between being in trouble at school, or having an attitude, I’m sure I was no picnic. But when I was there, and we weren’t having to do chores, or our stinking workbooks, we were typically playing outside. Me, my cousins, and siblings.
My aunt called us the “Indians”. Probably because were ran around like savages hitting each other, or trying to take things from each other. My memories typically replay all the nice things we did, so I can’t be sure on the other stuff, but I’m probably close.
We would get permission to go down to the creek. The walk to the creek was not by following a trail. You walked through the pasture behind the house, until you got to the tree line. Then you climbed under, or over, the barbed wire fence and disappeared into the woods. The woods, with these tall trees, and slightly overgrown underbrush, you felt like an explorer walking through. You envisioned yourself as an explorer like William Clark, or Merriweather Louis. You took in all of the sights and sounds. And you moved through, trying to dodge the thorny briar patches, and watching for copperheads.
As we move closer, you start the hear flowing water. It is just like hearing a song that touches your soul, for the first time, every time. Excitement takes over. There is screeching and hollering from all us “Indians”. We finally made it.
We walk up and down the creek looking for the perfect spot. We find it. It’s a spot in the creek that widens out to about 12 foot. It has a short, 3-foot cliff on one side, and on the other just a shallow bank. We grab a stick from the ground to measure the depth of the hole. It’s about 4 foot deep. Perfect swimming hole. We swim for a while, really enjoying everything. But something wasn’t exactly perfect yet.
Unsatisfied with the depth, we decided were going to be engineers, and construct a dam so that we could make the swimming whole deeper. See, we wanted to jump off the cliff, but didn’t like how shallow the hole was. So, we had this amazing idea that we as preteen adolescents could construct a sturdy dam, and believe it or not, we pulled it off.
Have you ever felt like you were winning at life? Well in that moment, I did. I’m sure we all did.
After the dam was constructed, with rocks, dirt, mud, and sticks, the hole got about 6-8 inches deeper. The pool was now perfect for us to cannon ball off the short cliff. Never was I prouder to swim in untreated water, that we had no clue what it got through to get there.
See, this memory reminds me, life can be fun and simple. The memories I have of this place are everlasting. The people involved, will forever have a special place in my heart.