One of my very favorite things in the world is clear water. Streams, creeks, rivers, springs and lakes in particular. I couldn’t tell you why that became such a draw for me, but it’s been that way since my early memories of the creek behind the old farmhouse where we lived, and the lake my parents sometimes took us to swim in, where I’d sit in the shallows and pick up whatever small pebbles or shells could be found on the sandy bottom.
Dark water, muddy water, any water where I couldn’t see the bottom, terrified me as a child, and can still leave me with a feeling of unease, but clear water is uplifting to my soul, if I have one. I want to wade, or swim, or follow the twisting course of a waterway to its source.
As a child I loved C.S. Lewis’ description of an underwater empire of fierce merfolk in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, drew pictures of mermaids and underwater scenes, watched for what creatures I could spot in any bit of water I came across, even the puddles left after rain, and avidly watched Wart be transformed into a fish to explore the castle moat in Disney’s The Sword in the Stone. I imagined being tiny enough to voyage down a stream the way Arietty and her family did in Mary Norton’s The Borrowers Afloat.
As an adult, I’m enchanted by these competitive aquascapes, and still sit by streams and ponds and lakes to see what I can see beneath the surface. I’m immediately more interested in any bit of nature that has even a little rivulet flowing through.
In some mythologies and folklore, people are associated with a specific element, and mine would be water. I can fit the qualities and traits of water to my own personality – I do not plant my feet in the ground and refuse to move, but I will flow around the obstacles in my path, wear what is rough into smoothness over time, and if my way is blocked, overflow my banks to seek a new way. When heated, I evaporate, coalesce into clouds and burst into lashing rain laced with searing lightning and noisy thunder, but when my fury is spent, soak quietly into the ground with a feeling of renewal. I freeze into ice, bitingly cold to the touch, but thaw quickly in the presence of warmth and light.
All of which is a very long and pretentious introduction to one of my new finds, this beautiful, shallow, very clear creek in the nature park that’s quickly become a favorite place to walk.