Sunday, July 07, 2013

My story as told by water, part VI

Kennebec River
Not Spring Creek but a pretty river nonetheless.

In high school, my friend Cindy and her family had what they called a ranch where they went to escape the city. Really, it was just some land they owned and included a mobile home, deer stands and a four-wheeler. Running through a corner of the property was Spring Creek, the place where my adventure began.

One summer day, Cindy invited me and Jennifer (the other member of our triumverate) to come out to the ranch and hang out. I think I've been pretty transparent about the fact that I wasn't an outdoorsy person and wasn't raised by an outdoorsy family. I've always loved being near water though. Wearing our swimsuits and dragging our inflatable pool float/loungers, we made our way down to the creek shortly after arriving. Leaving our floats along the bank, we swam out to a larger raft in the center of the reservoir, the cool water providing much needed relief from the unbearable Texas sun. I remember laughing, talking and sharing as we lay on the raft. We weren't really lay around in the sun-type girls, however, and were soon craving a bit more adventure.

Three giggling, chatty girls decided then and there to become explorers of the Texas wildlands, navigating Spring Creek as if it were the mighty Nile. Lying prostrate on my float, using my hands to paddle along, I followed the others out of the reservoir and into the narrowing creek. Long grass and weeds along the bank would occasionally brush against my bare leg, violating my personal space and sending a shiver up my spine, and periodically, I would have to brush channel-spanning cobwebs from my face. This might be the first appearance of the coping mechanism I like to call my nature blindness*.

I can't say how long we were out there. Looking back, it feels like we spent hours paddling along before we finally decided to stop. We found a shallow, cobble-lined section of the creek in which to sit. As conversation buzzed around me, my eyes focused on the water at my feet. Tiny black things clung to the rocks, and leaning in closer to the surface, I struggled to figure out what they were. Looking down at my thighs, I noticed a couple of the same things clinging to me. My head seemed to detach from my body and float above me like a balloon as it dawned on me what I was looking at. Without thinking, I was on my feet, slapping, dancing and flailing about as I tried to get the baby leeches off of me.

I can't tell you what happened after that or how we got back to the ranch. Perhaps self preservation has wiped these memories all eternal sunshine-like. I just know that for at least one afternoon I felt like a fearless explorer capable of great feats. You know...until the leeches came along.

*Nature blindness is my apparent ability to not see things in nature that scare me (e.g., spiders, snakes, bugs).

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