Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kids and creeks

Water and children—they go together like peas and carrots.

The home where I grew up had a seasonal stream in the back yard, small and friendly, that flowed down from a natural spring on the hill behind the yard. My parents still live in that same house; we go southward to visit them, and once there, I often end up losing track of my young son. When I seek him? Inevitably, I locate the kid hunkered down on the edges of that little creek; it still flows there when rains are plentiful.

He has to keep his balance because it's a deep-set trickle, with a grassy slope on either side that descends to the tinkling sparkle. Sometimes he has found a rock to settle on, and sometimes he's just folded his legs on themselves; I find him gazing at the water's bright surface, listening and watching the flow. More often, though, he is hard at work on some small, strange, water-related task: giving an ant a ride on a leaf boat, or building a waterfall, or trying to create a dam for the tiny swimmers in the water. It's very serious work, this water world re-design; I am reminded of a quote by kid expert Maria Montessori, about how "play is the work of the child." It is absolute truth to me, as I watch my little dude build, excavate, place and replace rock ledges, set various insects adrift, toss in sticks to see them float, and rock back on his haunches with satisfaction as he directs the diminutive cascade in his desired direction.

I remember doing the same thing at his age, even when I was older. I could sit by that water and lose myself in the musical sound, in the endless flow to points known and unknown. Toys made their way to the creek, visiting children got muddy there and loved it, and even my fashionable, wasp-waisted Barbie dolls took a few wild rafting rides after heavy storms.

I watch my son staring in that running water, how the sun reflected on its surface also makes light dance across his serious yet delighted face; the creek is alive, still drawing life to it after all these years.


Cari Skuse said...

Our house is sited right beside Snake Creek (it twists and turns like a snake). It runs for most of the year (except in Summer when it gets really dry) and many days we spend checking it out. Some of the former inhabitants put their garbage pit near it and after a good rain we find some real treasures! Old broken crocks, bottles, plates, jars. The ones that are interesting we put in my flower garden. So much fun!

chris h. said...

So true! Playing at the "crick" at my aunt's (on Mt. Nebo Road) was the very best fun you could have. Mud pie bakery was a favorite pastime -- along with catching crawdads and salamanders.