The morning was hot and muggy, drawing me both to my garden for some messy work and towards a heat-induced crabby mood. Of course the kids had it right, donning their bathing suits before I could finish my inertia driven weeding. It was time to go to the cool water and take the afternoon in for ourselves. I pulled my swimsuit onto my sticky skin and grabbed my bag and towel. We walked by the Sumac and wood chipped hill to the path to the river. I hung my things on a little branch and headed in for healing relief. While I waded through the clear water, I saw reflections of various moments in time. The iron red rocks of my menarche, the fool's gold of broken promises, the polished quartz of river touched memories. I fingered the pebbles in secret hope of finding specimens of our indigenous gemstone Prehnite, an ancient, frosty ice blue-green stone formed inside the trap rock of this river. I have some pieces already.
The swallows dove through the air in acrobatic arcs, the mourning doves cooed from tree boughs. The half sun toasted my shoulders as the current turned me from human to translucent being. The Mother part of me watched my children in the swimming spot. The other girl in me surrendered every stress and logic to the river that held me in place as long as I leaned towards it. An old haunting melody began to swim through me, one I remember sucking thirstily from the cassette until it hardly worked. Her songstress spell began to come back, as if delivered through the alchemy of blood and river water merging. 'down river' she sings, into my legs and back, into my skin and muscles and heart. I feel my throat swell, threatening tears. This precious moment in time, bringing such bliss it nearly hurts.
I let it sing to me, every note as clear as the water, a nature hymn in perfect harmony with today, with where I am in my life. I press my feet gently into the sandy side, next to the great blue herons footprints, peering in to see if I can see what she does. The raccoon prints follow closely behind.
I live down river. Of course I never knew that I would, back 17 years ago when I wore that tape to shreds to render her songs. I live at the base of a 90 mile yet small river, formed by prehistoric volcanoes, and filled with water primarily from rainfall. The crevice of land left to run water for me today, was in fact created during the time when Connecticut was a tropical land in the middle of Pangaea. I feel that loss, the memory, in my bones. That separation of land and that ancient climate change that seems to be recreating itself in new ways today. the memories of water are immortal; as a finite element on this planet, water knows everything. Perhaps the water I soaked in today was Cleopatra's last drink, or the water from the bottom of the Red Sea. Perhaps the water is a direct informant. A hard swims distance down along the summer cottages and giant sycamores, my river spills into the big river, where the serene world of rocky pure water changes into suburban water sport.
Treat yourself to a taste of watery acoustic poetry by Erica Wheeler, download her or use one of your fancy gadgets, you won't regret it. Or you can see a little bit of her on youtube. It's as if you took Allison Krauss and Walt Whitman and squished them together. Or perhaps she's the female John Denver ... but either way, her ability to sing the reverence for nature feels long overdue and unsurpassed. Her first album, From that Far, is the one I speak of above.