Friday, February 24, 2012

Jumping Creeks

As a deeply analytical person, constantly overwrought with emotion, I’ve been thinking a lot about metaphors lately.  Living in the trees forces me to notice the rough, the raw, the basic components of life on a level that’s easily missed when you’re comfortably wrapped in the embrace of a city.  I take notice now of the fundamentals: leaf buds, the way water pools in places and doesn’t in others, and the pattern of coyote songs.  They come closer when there’s no full moon.  We hear them barking at such a proximity that I expect the sound of nails clicking on the porches.  I imagine them loping and panting along the fence line.  It makes my hair stand on end.

It seems everything in the forest or pasture is a minor parable.  The budding leaves and wildflowers sprouting are reminders of second chances.  Seeing saturated earth after such a desperate and miserable drought says something about getting too much of good things.  And those coyotes pacing?  I haven’t figured that out yet but their hungry presence is reminiscent of those gnawing feelings that motivate.  Yearning?  Persistence?

Yesterday I took the dogs (and my new Crocs) down to the pond for a swim.  The path down is sliced by small, dribbly creeks right now, none too wide, but none pleasant enough to attempt barefooted.  Normally I take this walk in knee-high rubber boots, but it was an oddly summer-like day yesterday and the boots were too hot.  I wore the Crocs instead forgetting that they would mean lots of creek jumping rather than wading.  Jumping creeks is all about sizing up a situation and some basic risk analysis.  Depending on the soil, it’s hard to know what weight the other side can bear.  If there’s grass sprouting from the mud on the other side, there’s a decent chance it will support you, the root structure bolsters the dirt and holds things together.  If there’s a pile of gravely rocks, then chances are even better it will hold.  But if all you see is a smooth plane of spongy dirt, then it’s best to find a different landing spot.  Walk further down the creek for a spell.  I made some good choices yesterday considering how many times I had to hop across the mucky water, and how many opportunities there were for sinking ankle deep into a mixture of scum and donkey manure-filled puddles.  After five successful jumps, I skipped (Yes, I really do skip around out there.  This is a true story.) up the hill towards the house realizing that, of all the metaphors I’ve noticed lately, none is better suited to our lives right now than jumping creeks.  If our life is the land, then the murky creeks that rise and flow each time it rains are just the troubles that get thrown before us.  We have to hope for the best, and cross them.  Find our footing, look for grassy landings, bend our knees, and leap.  

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