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The Power of Water August 5, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Minutes after I posted my confession, the phone rang. It was Sioux.

“The tree is gone,” she said.

Immediately, I thought of the big old sycamore in front of her house and panicked a little. “Tree?”

“The one in the river.”

Sioux is a Route 153 Summer Person. Her property boasts (posted) access to the swimming hole. This past winter, the river deposited a dead tree in such a fashion that it bisected the best part of the hole. Even I, ever respectful of Nature and of River Structure for the health and happiness of fish, was not overly pleased about where this tree had ended up. It was huge, and the bulk of it was beneath the surface. The question Do chain saws work underwater? was regularly posed. How could this thing be gotten rid of?

It had rained enough to raise the river to the point of sweeping the tree further downstream. Somewhere.

“The island is almost covered,” she said. “You should come see it before you go.”

But of course, I could not. I was trying to meet a deadline and pack before leaving for a long weekend to a non–Route 153–type place, during which I was planning to not work.

The trip away from here (more than an hour into the drive) necessitated a detour from the planned route because of a closed road, no doubt a result of the storm. So on Monday, we came home a different way. We approached Parts West and Route 153 from River Road. Sioux lives at the T and the bend of the river. Even before we got to the stop sign, we could see that she and Duke and Aidan were swimclad and heading down to the water. We were enthusiastically welcomed home and invited to join them.

Ah, Route 153. Still a couple of miles from my house and already there is a welcoming committee.

We went home, unloaded the car, and I even unpacked. Then I put the pressure on Tim to hit the river—with any luck, before our friends left. I wanted to see it.

It had been almost five days since the Big Rain, and six days since I’d been immersed in those flowing waters, but still, it was a very different river from the one I’d last seen.

The water was high and swift, and it was a tougher crossing to the now-much-smaller exposed spit of land we call the island. The island had stopped the tree. The day Sioux had called, she wasn’t sure where the tree had landed, which means that the river had been really, really high. A T-shirt hung off a branch to dry. Sioux warned us, though, that she’d hung a hat there, which fell into the water and was swept away before she had any idea of it.

My “swimming” in the river generally consists of this: I wade slowly but surely into the cold water. Eventually—and usually with much prodding from Aidan, who sometimes has already dunked herself and sometimes has not—I swim headfirst into it. The shock is alarming and wonderful. The air is usually hot enough that the dip is truly refreshing. Then I wade out, dry off, and hang out on the island, chatting with Sioux and whomever else, admiring the birds and the view. Occasionally there is more swimming than this, but usually it’s just a cooling-off-and-hanging-out thing.

The river was strong and cold. I felt I’d been baptized back into life on Route 153.

As I said last week, I’m sure Rain did a lot of damage that night. But he and the River Gods (is he one of the River Gods, I wonder?) saw fit to give us back our swimming hole. And for that, we mortals are grateful.


1. Adam Byrn Tritt - August 5, 2009

If we ask, the gods often give us what we want. And that is why we should bo so very careful for what we ask.

2. bridgett - August 5, 2009

The third year we went down to the Ozarks, there was a tree that had fallen into the best swimming hole in the creek we usually hiked down to. It took many visits–maybe 4 more years?–before it completely disappeared through flood and decay. You’re lucky.

3. helen - August 5, 2009

I think my next aim in life is to become a Route 153 Summer Person. With the occasional side trip to Tuscany–although perhaps I’ll save that for the fall.

4. Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb - August 6, 2009

Such lovely writing, Indigo.

5. indigo bunting - August 6, 2009

H: I’d like to be a person who could regularly use the names of seasons as verbs (that is, other than the word fall if one chooses that over autumn). I would like to be able to summer and mean it. Now, back to a medical textbook.

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