Walking through restorative waters

Published 3:15 pm Monday, June 1, 2015

The rain keeps coming. Flooding and devastation are daily news in the southwest part of our country. Houses are filling with water and floating off their foundations. We’ve been asking for rain, all the while hoping it would be limited to creeks, lakes and rivers. That kind of rain is restorative.

I get nervous when big rains threaten.  When you’ve watched your home fill with water, it’s a natural reaction. Our experience in Houston during the flooding of Braes Bayou, summer of l983 is seared into my memory. Grabbing our toddler sons from their three wheelers — they had been riding through the rising water and squealing with delight — Jimmy and I waded to the access road of a nearby freeway and hitched a ride on an 18-wheeler. That was an adventure I never want to repeat.

In any case, the recollection of that is what prompted my walkabout in the back yard last week.  A shallow lake was forming at our fence line and creeping slowly toward our house. Preoccupied with the fear of flooding, I didn’t hear the sound at first.  It got louder as I slogged my way to the cedar fence. A creek bed in the greenbelt just beyond our property line had been dry for years. Could that sound be rushing water?

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I couldn’t wait to find out. Rocks and leaves had wedged the gate closed, but a shovel helped me clear an opening just big enough to squeeze through. The area was dense with bent cedar trees, stumps and dead branches pointing in different directions. There was no clear path.  I zigzagged my way through the brush.

And suddenly, there it was. Right in front of me: a fast moving body of water that wasn’t there yesterday. White water in places, like the rapids we rode that summer in Colorado, and clear, sparkling water in others. I stepped right in and followed the flow. Walking the creek made me happy.

After a while the sun began to set. I wasn’t ready to leave my newfound playground but I knew I shouldn’t press my luck with only a cell phone flashlight to guide my way. On the other hand, I couldn’t wait to share my pictures with my spouse. “See how the stones shimmer under water!” I said.  “Nice,” he replied with a slight nod. Not everyone is as appreciative of rocks and creeks as I am.

When I woke up the next morning, it was the first thing I thought of.  I grabbed a cup and drank my coffee out to the creek.  Like a woman in a love affair, I couldn’t stay away.  While communing with nature, my phone rang. A close friend was in the hospital.  I got in my car, hoping to “spell” his family.  When I got there, they had everything under control. “We will call you when we need something”, said his wife, politely.

Nothing is as frustrating as not being able to help. Back to the creek I went. More rain had fallen since my last visit and there were pieces of trash caught in the rocks, and branches. I started collecting. First a chip bag, then a plastic bottle. Was that a Chick Fil-A Bag caught in that tangle of twigs? And a plastic one at that? With built-in handles, it would hold plenty of garbage.

Sloshing through the creek with my walking stick in one hand and the garbage bag in the other, I was amazed at what I saw. It was as if everyone in the neighborhood had left something behind.  Stories of other people’s picnics entertained my imagination. Candy wrappers, beer bottles; one aluminum can was so rusted that the logo was no longer legible. The ring tab dated it by at least a decade.

Pretty soon, the sun was going down and my back was getting sore. It was time to head home. I was tired, yes, but significantly less frustrated than before my stroll through the stream. I had taken a walk through restorative waters.  I couldn’t help my friend, but cleaning the creek was a good substitution. It restored me and nature at the same time.

Donia Caspersen Crouch was raised in Southeast Texas and lives in Austin. Want more?  Donia’s  Stories of Hope and Humor can be ordered at dccrouch17@att.net.