When I first looked at this house, now my new home, one of the things that caught my attention, other than the spectacular views, was a dry creek bed meandering through the property. It wandered down from the golf course on the knoll above the back yard, worked its way around the house and decks, under a delightful bridge and through a large culvert under the street to the lake just beyond.
It was bone dry. Neither the realtor nor I could figure out why it was so dry, other than it was the height of summer and a drought, but the other man-made creeks in the area regularly ran in order to keep the lake filled.
I thought perhaps it had something to due with the upgrading at the small park across the street, so the next time I was down by the administration building I stopped in to ask about “turning the water back on.”
The ladies looked at one another, not knowing the answer, and then said, We need to get Sean. As it turned out, Sean was just down the hall and was more than happy to answer my question.
Ah. You have a real creek. It will run all winter. He could barely contain a grin.
Good thing I don’t embarrass easily.
Sean was right. Now, a few months later, the rains have come — hopefully for more than a few days — and the creek runs full.
It’s another unexpected delight, watching the water splash its way over river rocks and under the bridge on its journey from the hillside to the lake.
It also brings back unexpected and fond memories from childhood. There was a creek at the end of our road, owned by a gruff, weathered old man whom we all knew as Mr. Scrabo, one of four Serbian brothers who settled in the rural valley and planted orchards. There was an old road that ran along one side of his apple orchard and a wide creek that bordered the other side.
I don’t think he had any children of his own, other than the orchard that was, indeed, his child. Mr. Scrabo would only allow children on his property, he’d say with a wink to the adults out walking. He hired the young neighborhood boys to help pick apples for a quarter an hour and all the rotten apples they wanted for after-work rotten apple fights. Girls were not supposed to do hard labor or fight.
But, Mr. Scrabo gave all of us access to the creek, even helping by clearing a wide path down its banks to a large clearing where the creek lazily snaked around a generous hairpin turn. We spent many hot summer afternoons wading in the cool waters or fishing with with strainers from our moms’ kitchens, occasionally catching minnows and tadpoles while having great fun away from the eyes of any intruding parents.
The creek was gentle and babbling in the summer with waters so cool and clear you could see bugs and minnows alike, but, come the winter storms, the creek became swollen with water and part of the adventure of walking to school and having to cross the creek by balancing on a large fallen oak limb that, at the time, seemed oh-so-high above the raging waters below.
When it was my young children’s turn to grow up in their mother’s childhood home, it was a gift to watch them relive many of my memories at the creek at the end of our road.
Of course, by then, Mr. Scrabo was another memory, too, the old road widened and paved over, and his prized orchard sold for homes, although Mr. Scrabo had made certain that a path, deeded in perpetuity, allowed the neighborhood children access to the creek and all the adventures that awaited them.
Sweet memories. Sweeter man.
I think I’ll get a mug of hot, spiced tea and sit by the window for a while, watching the rain and the creek, and see what other memories are waiting to be found.