I had a rotten day yesterday; I was tired and cranky and just didn’t know what to do with myself. I finally forced myself to go cool off in the river, just to get out of the house and out of my head.
The Millers River was high and still, a perfect mirror for the evening sky as well as my spirits – both of which were muddled and moody.
I sat along the water’s edge watching the fish jump. It must have been feeding time, because the river danced with tiny splashes, each one a soft “plop”, like a frog jumping off a lily pad, or an oar gently slicing the water.
I heard a particularly active fish and began to watch the water rippling out as it worked itself into a feeding frenzy. Suddenly, I realized that it wasn’t a fish, but I couldn’t quite make out what it was. It looked like there was a head bobbing up and down. Perhaps it was a turtle? I continued to watch, but something didn’t seem right.
In an instant, I dove into the water and swam over to the splashing creature and pulled it out with my hand. It was a bird – a fledgling. I was just seconds too late. It had drowned.
I swam back to shore, tenderly placing the bird on a rock. I pulled myself up beside it, reflecting on how fragile life is, and how it keeps going on all around us – thriving, pulsing, and vibrant – full of suffering, full of wonder.
Whatever I was cranky about didn’t seem important anymore. This small and poignant moment held me tight. I stroked the damp feathers of the young bird, feeling both loss and gratitude.
Summer is coming to an end, but the banks of the river are still bursting with the satin of green leaves, the orange trumpets of jewelweed, and the bright crimson spikes of cardinal flower. I know that this, too, will pass with cooler days ahead.
It is hard to say goodbye to summer. I think of childhood friends who shared my summer days with gleeful and hearty innocence. We have drifted apart over the years, each of us going in our own distinct direction. It is a loss that is still painful to me, but I am grateful for our time together, and my heart feels full knowing that their lives, like the seasons, continue on.