Friday, January 16, 2009

The Creek

Meaning, moods, the whole scale of our inner experience, finds in nature "the correspondences" through which we may know our boundless selves.
-Kathleen Raine

Thinking about my growing years and what they have meant to me, I have found that I keep coming back to the same genesis, the same background that has influenced my life the most: nature.

Growing up by a creek and close to the ocean has profoundly colored the way in which I perceive the world. Our home was (and is) filled with windows, often open, overlooking the creek below. I was born in that home overlooking the creek, at sunrise. It was my first view, my first baptism, and the heart of my life for many years.

My activities were predicated on the rise and fall of its water, each season bringing its own wonders. We used to swim in the creek; sometimes innertubing down when it was high enough, later in the season, having to crush through thick, green stalks of watercress scenting the ride and our skin.

We would spend hours immersed in its glories, smells, and mysteries. We would sculpt figures from its clay banks. I can still remember exactly its smell and feel. That good, squishy kind of clay that escapes between your fingers. Wonderfully gooey.

We would lay on the beach and build homes and roads through the sands. I would always add an abalone shell pool. I loved the irredescent glint of its sheen, so much like that of water itself.

Later in the year, the santa ana winds would come. They always seemed to begin just before the darkness had begun to thin. Awakening to the change, I remember once dragging my sleeping bag outside onto the porch to feel the wonder of its warm charm. The smell of distant places whispering through its breeze. The excitement of knowing that it would be warm at the beach that day.

Everything seems different when those winds come. You feel different; freer. The creek takes on a different air during those winds, just as a woman changing out of day clothes and into something a little flashier, a little more daring. I relished the dusty wind throwing its pollen and pampas grass fluff.

The fall and winter would come bringing its more sober air. This was the hardest time of the year, the part when we couldn't play in the creek. But the smells were no less enchanting as we visited the flood stained waters checking for signs of clearing. The muddy scent of possibility. We spent hours upon hours with that creek. I knew it intimately, like an old friend.

And it was truly my first friend. It is a part of my soul; a part of me. It taught me that everything has a soul, perhaps most especially plants and animals and ecosystems. It also taught me that life is much grander than we can ever know, and that perhaps it is not for us to know. That there are mysteries embedded in mysteries and that paradox is the energy upon which we exist.


ms. changes pants while driving said...

beautiful post.

i have the same feelings about santa ana winds. it's a slight change, very slight. less obvious than the smell of rain on its way. the santa anas blow through your pores, like the very earth blowing through you.

and then it gets super hot and i get cranky.

beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

Jo, this is so beautiful. You have reminded me, so eloquently, how places in nature are so like our great friends. You took me back to memories I have of outdoor places, water, trees, and mountains that I remember fondly. You were so lucky to have experienced this with your creek. It's so lovely.

I hope that my children will fall in love with something like this, and always remember. It's such an important part of being human, and of connecting to the world on a tremendously deep level.

Your insights are amazing. You have the wisdom of a very old soul. :)

Daisy said...

So, so descriptive. It's wonderful to live near water. We're a few blocks from a river, so it only takes a short walk to be along the water. I feel very lucky.