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Oh, Yes We Did!

IMG_0311“Gran, can we play in the creek tomorrow?” four-year-old Elaine asked as I tucked her into bed. Yes, after the water is warm. By 8:00 a.m., the water was as warm as my Grand’s patience allowed. When your day begins at 6:00, two hours later is the middle of the day.

Elaine carried a bucket and plastic shovels. I hauled towels, my cell phone, a mug of lukewarm coffee, a bottle of water, and a folding chair down our backyard hill to the creek. A small creek – only a few inches deep, three feet wide with clear, and gentle flowing water.

Elaine stomped and stomped. “Look, Gran, the water’s brown! Where’s my feet?” She stood perfectly still and I challenged her to stay still until the water cleared and she could see her feet. As she stared down, water striders glided on the water’s surface around her ankles. Elaine squatted. Her nose almost touching the water. The striders dispersed. “Where’d they go? I wanna catch one,” my Grand said.

Elaine raised her open hand and when a strider came close, she slapped the water and closed her fingers, but she didn’t catch anything. She tried again and again and again until finally, she showed me a crushed insect.

“Way to go, Elaine!” I said and then convinced her that the strider would be happier with its friends in the creek than alone in a plastic bucket. When she opened her fist underwater to release the strider, green algae floated onto her hand and she grabbed it. “Look, Gran! This is slimy!” She plunged her hand to the creek bottom and brought up a handful of algae.

“Is this supposed to be here?” Elaine asked. I explained that algae grows in water like weeds in dirt and it should be in the water. “Wow! That’s comazing!” (comazing – not amazing) my Grand said as she squeezed algae in both hands and then gathered enough to cover the bottom of a bucket. She held the bucket under my nose, “ Look. It’s like wet moss.”

Elaine and I took giant steps in the creek. We swirled water with a stick. We threw rocks and splashed and threw a leaf and watched it float. “Gran, will you help me build……what’s it called? One of those things that Samuel and Elsie (her older siblings) make?” She described it as rocks stacked on each other. “Do you mean a dam, Elaine?” I asked. “Dam!” she shouted. “Dam! Dam! Dam. Is dam a bad word?” Elaine’s interest in building a dam was shorter than the time it took to shout the word three times.

“I need to make some mud balls,” Elaine announced. She dug black clay from the creek’s bank and squashed it between her hands so that it stuck together. Carefully, she arranged the balls, the size of hickory nuts, on a big rock to dry. Every ball had to be the same size and placed in two straight lines.

A few more splashes and swirls and stomps and creek play time ended. As Elaine and I walked toward our house, I ad-libbed a silly one-line song. “Oh, we had fun in the creek,” and Elaine immediately sang, “Oh, yes, we did!” Our song continued.

We splashed and walked

            Elaine: And picked up rocks

            We saw a dragonfly

            Elaine: And wet mo – mo- moss

            We threw some rocks

            Elaine: And picked up water striders.

            Oh, we had fun in the creek.

            Elaine: OH, YES! WE DID, DID, DID, DID, DID!

The Whole Story

“Gran, remember when I jumped across the creek?  You were scared!” my eight-year-old Grand said as we stood on the bank of the creek in my back yard.

“Yes, I remember.  But I wasn’t exactly scared,” I said.

“You thought I’d fall!”  David said.  His next question cut me to the quick.  “Did you ever write about it?  That’s when I was 5.”

One cool, early spring morning David and I had played and worked outside.  Kicked a ball.  Blew bubbles.  Picked up sticks.  Threw rocks and leaves into the creek.  The creek was about three feet wide and the foot-deep water flowed swiftly over rocks, carrying leaves out of sight.  We stood on the 4’ bank and wondered why one side of the bank was high and the other just a few inches above water level.

Suddenly, my Grand bent his legs and sprang across the creek.  Jumped high to low and landed on stable ground.  His grinned and looked at me as if to gauge my reaction.  “I didn’t expect you to jump!”  I said.  “Can you jump back?”  He leaned forward and stretched his arms toward me.  The bank where I stood morphed into a mountain.  The creek became a river.

David pushed the legs of his jeans up to his knees, took off his shoes and socks, and stepped into the water.  “That’s cold!”  He jerked his foot out.  “What if my clothes get wet?”  Fine with me, but I didn’t have dry clothes for him.  My Grand put on his socks and shoes and walked along the creek edge, presumably searching for a narrow place where he could jump.  He swirled the water with a stick.  And then he saw a log across the water.  A 12” wide uprooted tree that connected banks about eight feet apart and four feet over the rocky-bottomed creek.  “I’ll walk across!”  he announced.

I expected to deal with wet clothes, but I didn’t want to call my Grand’s mother to report a broken arm.  “How about you sit on the log – like riding a horse – and scoot?”  I said in my sternest grandmother voice.  David wiggled across the fallen tree and leaned sideways faking a fall, just to make me catch my breath.  He laughed.  I hugged him and he immediately turned away from me and crawled back across the log.  “I’m going to walk next time.  Take my picture!”  I smiled, hoping to hide my concern.  I snapped his picture as he stood in the middle of the log. It would be proof that the log really was wide enough to walk when I showed it to his mother in the emergency room.

“Come on, Gran!  Walk with me!”  David said.  He pranced across the log a few more times while I stay planted to the ground, and when I said that it was time to get off the log, he didn’t argue.  Later that morning as we he’d kicked a soccer ball around the yard, he’d asked, “Are you going to tell Momma what I did?”

So now, David, your momma knows the whole story.  Not just that you scooted across a log over the creek.