Thursday, August 14, 2003

how do i tell you about the river?

We had a week of constant rain, as I've mentioned, and it filled our well, as I've also mentioned. Since it happened, I hadn't been down to the swimming hole (or Smith's Pool, which is the local name) in nice weather. (I was down, last Sunday, just as the rain was ending. The sky was gun-barrel grey, and the river was running high, fast and red. The surface of the pool was covered in white foam, and twirling round itself much faster than normal, and the water was a bitter cool. I went in up to my knees, dipped in, and did some scattered, frantic laps before getting out; the fast current and changed river bottom scared me.)

So today, after work, with the puffy white clouds building and dismantling slow as elephants in the sky above me, I put on my sarong and picked my way in bare feet through the sharp, fresh-mowed field. I crossed the shallow, slippery-rock part and slipped into the pool. All the stone piles Mat and I had built in the shallow part, save one, had fallen in the week's rain. The water was still the maple-leaf red that it had been earlier, and in the shallows it was technicolor golden. I swam in it naked, revelling in being in the water again, after a week's absence. I let the current take me down, then stood with legs braced against it while boils and rolls of rushing water flowed over my arms, against the backs of my legs. I lay on my back and let the pool turn me around lazily, while sound was thickened and stilled by the water in my ears and all I could see were the tops of the hardwoods that lean over the water. I did laps, seeing only water, my arm, water, my arm, water. The water was welcoming and only a little nippy, there was a feel of fall to it, the breeze blew little ripples across the surface.

I got out, dried, then walked home. The river regenerates me. My skin feels soft and cool, and my hair is happy and a rumpled mess.

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