Everybody has place to go with a creek. Right? Or a river? Or a stream? Or a run? Or a something?
Maybe not. I guess people in New Mexico or Arizona or Nevada or East Texas or some other dry place might not. Poor saps.
Everywhere I’ve ever lived has had one, though. And this summer, I’ve been every day.
The creek. The woods. The place you go when you’re a kid and catch frogs and splash around and pretend you’re a pirate and build a fort and get filthy. The place you go when you’re a slightly older kid to brood after school and sneak cigarettes and beers and hopefully not much else on the weekends with your friends. And the place you go when you’re over all that for a walk, or a jog, or to clear your head, or because your dog needs exercise, or because your kids need to get out of the house, or some combination of all of the above.
Today we went to the “college woods,” through which Crum Creek flows. These are the woods of my youth, located one town to the right of us. I was craving variation from our regular haunt, The Old Mill – Ridley Creek runs through those woods. When we lived another town over, before we had kids and before this dog, we frequented Rocky Run and Chester Creek. When I lived in Chestnut Hill it was the Wissahickon.
Each has its own atmosphere, psychic temperature, and offerings – there’s a great rope swing at The Old Mill, and we sometimes find fossils. Crum Creek yields plentiful pottery, some truly old and interesting (although I did have to spend some time convincing one intrepid future archaeologist that “Yuengling Bottle Circa 2009″ was really not such a rare treasure). Chester Creek is clean and cool and full of trout. The Wissahickon has the Indian statue and secret bridges.
My favorite will forever be Greenough Park in Missoula, Montana. Maybe because of when I when was there, but maybe that’s not it. I ran then – and it’s almost exactly a one mile loop. My big Bernese Mountain Dog and I would go, planning to run it twice, but never did. Once was good. Parts of the path were paved and perfectly maintained and parts were wild and overgrown. My best friend’s neighbor used to threaten to go rake it when her life was feeling out of control. You’d go one day and the leaves would be on the trees, and the next you’d be knee deep in snow. Rattlesnake Creek runs through Greenough Park. The name wasn’t chosen to sound all “Wild Westy;” it’s more of a descriptor.
The second summer I lived in Missoula was “a hot one.” One day Dexter (the dog) and I showed up at Greenough to find that someone had damned up a section of Rattlesnake Creek to create a pool at its widest point – about 25 feet across – about four feet deep. My Swiss Mountain Dog, a previously non swimming dog, swam in slow, languid circles, using his tail as a feathery rudder for hours.
God, how I miss that park. Almost as much as I miss the dog.