We’re like the water

We’ve got mud here people. It’s official.

And never has a girl been so happy to see this slop and slush and muck. I’ve have enthusiastically switched from snowshoes and boots with three inch insulation to those of a muck variety and I have no intention of dodging or jumping or leaping over any puddles or rushing streams.

I have every intention of stepping in as much of the stuff as I can.

Because we have mud people.

We have mud and blue skies

and a bug on my backpack

and magic sunshine that is turning those white drifts into rivers in places rivers only exist for a few short days during this time of year.

The time between winter and the full on sprouting, buzzing heat wave of spring. The time where the snow still peeks through the trees, the wind still puts a flush in your cheeks, birds are still planning their flights back home and the crocuses haven’t quite popped through the dirt.

My favorite time of year.

When I was a little girl I lived for the big meltdown. My parent’s home is located in a coulee surrounded by cliffs of bur oak and brush where a creek winds and babbles and bubbles and cuts through the banks. And that creek absolutely mystified me. It changed all the time, depending on rainfall, sunshine and the presence of beavers or cattle.

In the summer it was lively enough, home to bugs that rowed and darted on the surface of the water and rocks worn smooth by the constant movement of the stream flowing up to the big beaver dam I would hike to daily. In the typical North Dakota fall it became a ribbon carrying on and pushing through oak leaves and acorns that had fallen in its path. In winter it slowed down and slept while I shoveled it’s surface to make room for twists and turns on my ice skates.

But in the meltdown it was magical. It rushed. It raged. It widened in the flat spaces and cut deep ravines where it was forced to squeeze on through. It showed no mercy. It had to get somewhere. It had to open up. It had to move and jump and soak up the sun and wave to the animals waking up.

And I would follow it. I would become obsessed. I would step out on the back deck and at the first sound of water moving in the silence of our backyard I would pull on my boots and get out there to meet it, to walk with it, to search for the biggest waterfalls and gawk at how it would scream out of its banks and marvel at how it changed.

I would be out there for hours.  Around every bend was something a little more amazing–a fallen log to cross, a narrow cut to jump over, a place to test the water-proof capacity of my green boots. The creek runs through multiple pastures on the place and as long as the daylight would allow I would move right along with it for the miles it skipped along and then return home soaked and flushed and refreshed and completely and utterly exhausted.

And then I would do the same thing the next day. Because even as a kid I knew this magical time was fleeting. I knew the creek wouldn’t always act this outrageously marvelous so I had to get out there…because someone had to see this. And at that time, and still to this day, there are places on that creek that very few people have ever been.

But I was one of them. I was one of them and that creek was performing for me.  Oh, I remember feeling so secret. So special and lucky to have this show in my backyard. And although I loved summer and all the warmth and sunshine and green grass it brought with it, I never wanted this early spring witching hour to end.

I vividly remember a dream I had about the creek when I was about 10 or 11. I dreamed the creek behind my house was huge, like a river you would find in the mountains–a river I had yet to discover at that time. The landscape the creek wound through was the same in real life as it was in my dream–the oaks and the raspberries existed there–but the water was warmer and crystal clear and it pooled up at the bottom of huge and gentile waterfalls that rolled over miles of smooth rocks and fluffy grass. And I was out in it with friends I had never met before as an adult woman with long legs and arms and we were swimming in its water and letting the current push us over the waterfalls and along the bottom of the creek bed until we landed  in the deep water where we would float for a while and then launch ourselves out for another run. And we were laughing and screaming with anticipation for where that water was going to take us. But we were never afraid. We were never cold or worrying about getting home for dinner or what our bodies looked like in our bathing suits.

We were free. I was free. And the water was rushing.

We may never know if there is a heaven while we are here on this very volatile and fragile earth, but that there could be that much water and that much power and change rolling through our backyards and then one day we wake up to find that it has just quietly moved on and out and along still mystifies me to this day.

That there are snowbanks that fly in with the burning chill of winter’s wind and reach up over my head and stay for months on end only to  disappear in one day with the quiet strength of the sun is extraordinary for lack of a more powerful word.

That the water in my creek is made from the snow that fell from the sky in early November and is currently rushing around the trees, settling in hoof prints, being lapped up by coyotes and splashed in by geese and sinking in the earth and changing it forever is something that makes me believe in something.

…like perhaps we are like that drop that fell from above,  afraid of the mystery that was waiting for us as we hurtled through the atmosphere only to find when we finally hit the earth that we are not one drop alone in this world…

…we are the water.

18 thoughts on “We’re like the water

  1. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my neighbor yesterday as we walked the ground similar looking to your photographs. We talked about those dreams we’ve had where we feel like God was giving us a glimpse of Heaven (mine being a mansion with endless rooms to explore).

    Like you described: freedom.

    Loved your dream – I want to join! 🙂

    • Yes! You got exactly what I was trying to say. I do believe I got a little glimpse of heaven there in that dream…and the most surprising blessing is that sometimes I feel like I am in the middle of a little bit of that heaven right here on earth.

  2. A private springtime creek to follow sounds just wonderful! I think no matter how old a person is, when they follow a creek, game trail, or even a wandering puppy, the “little kid on a secretive adventure” swells up inside (at least it does for me… 🙂 )

    • I think you and I share the same type of passion and relationship with the great outdoors. I love how you described the secretive adventure swelling up, like you’re going to discover something that has yet to ever be found. I do still feel that way to this day, especially in the spring coulees. Love from ND to MT!

  3. I am like you. I was walking home from school one day and walked through Bakers’ Pond and lost both overshoes. Boy was my mom mad, and my feet were a mess from all the burrs and rocks.

  4. Excellent! There is something so primal and elemental about that time when winter just starts to loosen up. good job girl… you captured it.

  5. Your post reminds me of the happy hours I spent as a little girl in and near the creek that ran through our northern North Dakota farm. Thank you.

  6. Like you, the kids in my family simply LIVED for spring and all that water rushing through the coulees!! There was something magical about the water moving and the chance of *gasp* getting a “bootfull” (water over the top of our rubber boots). We’d put small boats in and run alongside to see where they’d end up, covering miles in the process. Ah the life of a prairie kid .. such freedom!

    Thanks for the trip back to my childhood 🙂


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