I went down to that creek by the school today. Luckily, there were no crackheads down there and I could be in peace.
The creek is a cool little place in the summer. I used to go all the time, tossing a book or journal or whatever over the chain-link fence and then clambering over myself. Sweltering summer sun evaporated away all the water, and I could climb right down into the dry riverbank. The weeds would grow so high that if I crouched I’d be hidden from everything else in the world. Sometimes I would just sit there, surrounded by dust and dry, crinkly plantlife and read or write in a journal. (Those were the days before I had a blog.) Sometimes I’d go on little scavenger hunts, seeking tennis or lacrosse balls, wing nuts, marbles, and other treasures. But once I’d gathered up a good amount of rubbish, I’d pretty much just stand around wondering what to do with it. Garbage was turned into treasure for a moment, then discarded and turned back to mere trash again. After a while I’d start to feel sweaty and dirty and disgusting. With that, I would scramble back up, climb over the fence, walk home and head straight into the shower.
Sometimes my cousins would come with me. We would bounce tennis balls off those weird, slanted concrete things and blather on about our plans for the next day. Once we walked down through the center all the way to the end, next to the high school, where a bridge offered shade but also the reek of cigarette smoke and fermenting beer. We about-faced as soon as we caught a whiff of the stench and ran all the way back. Once my sister, cousins, and I all took a trip to the creek, bringing my and my sister’s dog with us. We played fetch with him in the riverbank for a while. Then we had to heave him up the steep sides of the concrete slant. For some reason, that ornery mutt was unwilling to climb up. It took a lot of muscle, grunting, and pulling to get him to the top. Luckily, there was a little gap where he could fit through the fence, so the impossible task of catapulting him over the fence remained in the world of impossibilities.
I know I sound all, “yep, those were the good ol’ days,” but seriously, those days were good. And... old...? Anyway, it’s never quite as fun when the creek is flowing. Actually, it’s not as fun at all. There are no shoulder-high weeds. You can’t walk down the middle, so no treaure hunting. The concrete things, whatever they are, are all wet, so no tennis-ball-bouncing. The bank is muddy and squelchy and gross. There’s nothing, really, to do. I walked back and forth a few times, disappointed. Then I went home to get a basketball, and shot hoops instead.
It’s a little pathetic how I’m amused by such juvenile activities. I should have outgrown the delight of picking up a mysterious object and then going “hey-whats-this?” Sitting in a dry dusty riverbed reading should be inferior to sitting on my dry comfy bedroom-bed reading. Oh well. I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of saying about simple pleasures and simple minds that would be appropriate to quote right now, but I can’t think of any clever ones.