The strangest sensation wafted over my body the other day. I was driving on a road that I have driven down for years. I know every curve and dip in the cement and where I can accelerate to gain the most speed. If I had to, I might be able to drive it blind.
At the most southern intersection is where the river transects the road. The frigid water of the Boardman River flows under the bridge and pools and bubbles and swells in the springtime or after a hard rain. The Boardman Lake is fed by springs and sits just south of where this river and this road meet. The Boardman spills its contents into the riverbed and drags and pushes particles and leaves and fish over rocks and tree roots. Much like a vein threading its way from the heart to the lungs, the Boardman River joins one lake to another. Its smallest width is less than two feet and widest is fifty yards.
At different times of the year I’ve seen Kayakers, the professional kind, with their brightly colored neoprene wet suits with corporate logos festooned on the sleeves, take their tiny boats and plunge and roll them into the clear water. They mimic life-and-death situations under the close supervision of a neighboring carp. I’ve walked the edge of that river with friends and loved ones. I’ve rented inner tubes and have floated, swam and slid on that river. Yes, slid. The Boardman froze the year I was eight. I grabbed my plastic sled and headed down to the library on Sixth Street. The Boardman’s solid state lay at the bottom of the hill and I as I gained speed I barreled through the protective bank and out onto the ice I went, spinning like a child’s top. The best times and the best fun.
The other day as I drove, the feeling that came over me was being able to feel the river. It was audible as it whispered, “Come, sit at my edge and rest your feet within me. Walk beside me and tell me a story and I will tell you one too. I have been here all along as you have gone on your adventure and have been to other countries. I have been here when you head was not and I will always be here. I have missed you.”
And I have missed it. Time to go for a walk.