Friday, February 7, 2014

The Surface of Change

I stand along the banks of antiquated change.  A place of my childhood, its youthful bliss and innocence forever enshrined in my memory.  A place of rebellion where foolhardy teenagers sought to defy convention with the aid of natures herbal remedies.  The canopy of elderly sycamores that towered ever watchful and protective with their sprawling limbs above its flowing waters provided secrecy to those in lustful discovery and gave sanctuary to the embattled individual in search of answers to life's infinite and unanswerable questions.  

I cannot remember the last time I stood along the banks of the Big Walnut.  It has been many years.  But we are not strangers.  It's language is not unfamiliar.  I can understand it as clearly now as I did in my childhood.  The water flows calmly, not quite silently, over fallen branches and the littering of leaves that descend gracefully from high above the creek; their colors vibrant hues of orange and red that accompany autumn.  The breeze whispers softly but with enthusiasm as though greeting an old friend that has ventured far away  for many years but has never been forgotten.  I close my eyes and feel its words as they brush my cheek.  Its breath carries the smell of freshly plowed fields that lie quietly on the other side of the trees.  

Most would say this is a place frozen in time.  A piece of the natural world left untouched and undeveloped.  To think such things is foolish.  For this place is no stranger to change.  The leaves that flutter with each breath of air are not the same that decorated the broad and gnarled limbs a year ago and those leaves are not the same as those the year before that.  The nest that sits protected in the canopy is now empty.  A memory of a mother whose little ones are no longer dependent upon her warmth and provisions and have flown away to fulfill their own purpose.  The water is not the same water that flowed here a few moments ago and it certainly is not that which cooled my skin during the hot, humid summers of my childhood.  For even when the winter comes and the Big Walnut freezes over, the water still runs beneath.  It is a human mistake to look only at the surface and believe that time stands still.

- Nick Stirrett