Pin It I sit, listening to the escalating whir of the afternoon cicadas and idly watching the kids as they exchange one toy for another, one play plan of attack for another. I am drained, sapped of energy by the ninety-plus degree temperatures and our almost constant travel over the last eight or nine weeks.
I’m not sure I can handle much more of summer, but that’s okay because summer is, thankfully, drawing to a close. I love this time of year—the panicked slide into school and return to routines inculcated into our very DNA, it seems, but easily abandoned during lazy summer months. I love that early morning rush and then the slower, calming return home for a cup of Echinacea tea (because you know it all goes to hell if Mom gets sick) and a little breathing room. Shower, chores, and then a trip to the gym before picking the hoodlums up from school again.
So I sit, and I anticipate, gleefully, the return of my house, my time, myself. As I do so, I start to sift through summer photos, which I’ve long since given up on editing and printing until time decides to grind to a shrieking halt. It’s a fitting tribute, I think, to these hot months of endless hither and yon and home again, home again. And so it is that I stumble upon our river pictures.
This was a good day. You can see it in the wide smiles and deep dimples carved in my hoodlums’ faces, mischief shining out of their eyes as they plot their next adventure. There was competition over who was the better fisherman (Lawson), who was the better swimmer (Autumn), and who had the best legs (Mommy). There were those silvery spiders skating on the surface of the water, lovely algae beckoning from under its surface, and the wind in our faces when Daddy sent the boat cutting through the river. There was warm sun, and cool water, and togetherness.
It was a good day.
It reminded me, actually, of another day, and another river. Other kids, and another father. After the divorce, Dad used to pick us up for visitation every other weekend before he moved halfway across the country. Invariably we’d head down to the James River to play, rolling our pants up and leaping across rocks tumbled carelessly in the shallows, like marbles from some abstracted giant’s hand, deaf to Dad’s warnings to be careful of the slippery spots. Always, without fail, one of us would get a dunking, clothes and all. I’m pretty certain it was intentional. We’d investigate the shallows, searching for crawdads, shells, minnows and whatever other treasures we could find—just as Autumn and Lawson do today.
The trips to the river ended when Dad’s job took him first to California, then to Ohio, then to Indiana, and then to Illinois. It was apparent that weekends would be out for some time. And that was it. My love for the river shriveled in tandem with the immediate scarcity of those weekend outings. Quite some time elapsed between those childhood jaunts and our own, more recent trips to the river. It took marriage to a good ole’ boy and a couple of mini-hoodlums more interested in mud than t.v. to carry me back. Now, sifting through these photographs, the past is nothing more than a gently beckoning shadow on a sunny day.
Cool water on hot flesh.
Wind in my face.
It is what it is, and it’s good.