Thursday, 1 November 2012

Things Floating In the Water

In the blog last night, I mentioned the creek that ran behind our house when I was growing up. If I close my eyes, I can still see it and see myself playing along its banks. I went back to look at it the last time that I was in the old neighbourhood, and boy, had it changed.

Instead of a small stream flowing down along its bed, the powers that be had at some point in the past inserted a concrete bed liner. I couldn’t see very well, because they had also erected a large and imposing chain link fence. I guess they must have been worried about kids drowning or perhaps having unsanctioned fun. Really, for all I know someone had come to an unfortunate end, but somehow I think an evil little troll in the planning department couldn’t stand a little bit of nature flowing through the city.

I played in and around the creek in all seasons. It was a great place to be in the winter. You could slide down the banks and if there had been a lot of snow you could dig caves into the snow drifts or just walk out on them until they collapsed under your weight causing a small avalanche with you at the apex. The ice would often be crystal clear and you could see all the way to the bottom. Okay, it was only about ten inches deep, but there was a frozen world spread out under you as you lay on your stomach watching bubbles that had been frozen in time. No matter how clear it was, when you licked the ice it would still taste like a sewer, but you could rinse the taste out with a mitten full of snow. Sometimes I would take my skates and pretend that I was Hans Brinker racing down the canal trying to win the coveted silver skates. In truth, I was lucky to get two glides in before hitting some obstruction. That didn’t matter; I spent hours on that ice.
The spring would bring a whole new aspect to the creek. In the very early spring there would be the melting ice and boats made from snow that would make their way down the “river”. Springtime was the only time when there was much of a current at all and I made the best of it. Anything that could float would become a boat and two floating “boats” was a race with me running along the bank cheering on first one and then the other. More often than not they would get stuck on a bank or some ice that had yet to melt. Later in the spring there would be all sorts of insects to trap in glass jars and of course spring is the season for pollywogs. What odd creature’s pollywogs are. They started out looking like minnows and before you knew it they would begin to grow legs and eventually they would become tiny frogs. I can’t tell you how many insects and or pollywogs died in glass jars during the spring.
In the summer that was when the pirates would invade the creek. The pirates would sail in on ships made from an old piece of plywood or a 2 X 4. They waged war on the dragon flies that flitted hither and thither. Monarch butterflies would add a little beauty to the area, but I never liked to capture them because the magic wing powder would come off on my fingers and I thought that without the magic powder they wouldn’t be able to fly. Frogs were fair game though. They were a lot harder to catch than tadpoles and once I did capture them I was at a loss as to what I should do to them. Mom didn’t want them in the house and frogs generally make for shitty pets. I would release them and watch them jump, only to capture them again. Lots of fun. The summer was also the time of storms when the creek would actually and truly turn into a raging river that frightened me. I would look at it from the safety of the “Rogers” back yard. When the storm finally stopped and the water receded, everything had changed. There were new boards and other garbage, the long grass on the banks looked as if it had been combed in one direction and it smelled relatively fresh.

In the fall the water had basically stopped and there were just pools more or less. I spent less time there in the fall because I had school and cubs and whatever else. Fall was a busy time and the creek had been pretty much explored. Maybe I had finally started listening to my mom who kept on and on about how bad it was to be in the creek. The water was polluted and might give me polio. I might drown in water from someone’s toilet. I never did believe that about the toilet, because if it were true, then I should have seen things floating in the water which I didn’t. Oh, there were things floating in the water…just not shit.


  1. I truly wanted to write down a quick remark to thank you for these pleasant secrets you are showing at this website. My time-consuming internet lookup has at the end been rewarded with really good know-how to go over with my contacts. I ‘d express that we readers actually are undoubtedly blessed to dwell in a fantastic community with many outstanding individuals with insightful concepts. I feel rather grateful to have used the web site and look forward to tons of more cool times reading here. Thank you once more for all the details.

  2. This is such a nicely described slice of life. I felt that I could see that little boy whiling away the summer afternoon. Very well done.