The River

Nov 12

The house I grew up in-which is still there and is still my mother’s abode-sits on a hill above a flood plain. Down below, across a soft brown meadow, and through a thin line of North Georgia trees is the Oconee River. Languorous, chocolate murky, it wends a shallow cleft through granite stones and sediment. I’ve known the River all my life. I’ve seen its mark rise and fall with the seasons, with the changes in sun and rain. Sometimes, it would spill over its banks, and create a miraculous miniature lake down in the field that was the flood plain. In harder times, when to all our surprises in this day and age water was a limited resource, the river would dwindle and its body lessen, until its figurements were starved, its spare form giving way to river stones beneath.

The Oconee is dotted with the ruins of mills. Old stone edifices fallen into a beautiful destruction. Somehow, the crumbled stone and mortar is a part of the river as much as the trees and granite that are about it and the fish that swim in it, even though it was made by men.

When I was a child, despite warnings from my mother, I would play down by the river. There were trails along it through the woods. Trails that led deep into the forest and down the water, bearing the young walker into a good distance from square shaped lots and the cars that parked on them. I still have dreams of walking those paths by the river, as if at night I return to it along with many others and make my way again through paths trodden in childhood.

When I was older, I still went down by the river. I would sit on great granite slabs and not think about things. In long silences, I walked underneath oak and hickory, occasionally spotting a deer. Once, a hummingbird flew up to me. Serpents are a common enough sight in warmer months.

When I go home, I still visit the river. I go down to its banks. The water goes by. It was here before I was and will be here when I’ve moved on.

One comment

  1. Love this Peter. I can see myself there through your descriptions. What a lovely memory.
    ann

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