They Move Downstream So Quickly, Don’t They?

She will grow up and move on, but I can't help think she'll remember

We watched our creeks slowly dwindle since mid-May. I wondered if, come the heat of summer, we would have enough flow in Goose Creek to water the garden, while Ann’s worry was would there be enough water in them for the girls when they came to visit the end of June?

Thanks to the copious spring rains, the fractured rock reservoirs below ground were charged to some goodly percent of capacity (nobody knows how much water that would take). So even though every storm mass either spilt north and south of us, or vanished into thin, dry air as it approached northeastern Floyd County, the creeks were adequately full for the building of dams, harvesting of minnows for catch-and-release, and cold water for squirting other little girls or large dogs on a hot afternoon in the dappled shade.

We’ve had a couple of frog-chokers here recently and expect more strong storms again today, but remnants of the dam remain, a fragile reminder of a time our eldest grand daughter was happy being a little girl, content to be free of shopping centers, television and team sports.

You have to wonder…you know, really…the time will come when a week at the grand parents is, like, so boring and uncool. Only the younger one will come then, and unless she changes drastically, she won’t be as happy immersed in grit and grasshoppers as her fearless sister. And then, she’ll age out, and not care to come over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house anymore.

And so, I’m gratified to have captured a few of those wet moments from a time that flows downstream, away from us, like Nameless Creek, bound to mingle with the seas of Time Immemorial, an ocean of memories filled with the growing up and moving away of so many small children–you, me, all of us who have hurried through our childhoods, in a rush to grow up and become someone and some thing we cannot imagine.

But some of us build dams, just to slow things down a bit.


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. unlikely. spent nearly a week with my teenaged nephew a while back, and even though he brought his x-box to the cabin, he still spent a fair amount of time happily chucking sticks in the river and having rock skipping contests with me.

  2. Time flows downstream, carrying us apart, because each of our timelines has a different speed. It sure is poignant, isn’t it. I am hopeful that, at least, your fearless eldest will still enjoy a week immersed in her childhood pleasures. Until I graduated from high school, I couldn’t imagine not going to my childhood vacation cabin every August. Then, summer jobs ended that childhood idyll. This was another beautiful post.