Sunday, March 16, 2008

So let the waves come; they will anyway

Water. I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. As a troubled teen, I used to sit for hours on a huge rock lodged in the middle of a river and watch the water slipping softly by on both sides. There was something unspeakably soothing in its constancy. When it hit obstacles, it simply ran around them. It was infinitely gentle, absolutely unstoppable.

When I grew up, I moved to live near the sea and later to the beautiful English Lake District. From an early age, my children played in, around, and on the water too. I used to walk them home from school via our river where we would often stop to paddle or mess about with mud and sticks. In the holidays, I would take them camping by the beach at Whitby or rowing on Ullswater or Buttermere.

When we came to Dallas just over five years ago, we brought very little. You cannot carry a house on your back when you cross an ocean. There were the children’s toys, some clothes, a few of our most treasured books—and a small yellow dinghy that has been gathering dust in the garage for far too long. It’s hard to say why I would bring a dinghy to Dallas, but there it is, a message, a reminder.

Today, I unearthed it from its dusty hiding place and took it out to White Rock Lake with Lizzy who is always good for a lark. Joy rolled her eyes and stayed home; at 13, she is both too old and too young to mess about in boats.

Finding my dinghy, rowing out onto the water again, was like unwrapping a present sent to me from a younger—and perhaps wiser—self. Life has been a little choppy of late, and there have been days and weeks when I have felt the water has been almost over my head. I have felt that I was, as Stevie Smith put it so well, “not waving, but drowning.” It has been hard to breathe at times, and I don’t fool myself that there aren’t more of those times to come. But today, in the sunshine, with cold, wet pants, bare, muddy feet, and laughing birds wheeling overhead, I remembered that water has always been my friend.

So let the waves come; they will anyway.

Lizzy and I laughed as we sat in the middle of the lake in less than dry condition, reciting lines from one of our favorite poems by Edward Lear:

The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, ‘How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our Sieve we spin!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

Lizzy looked down at her damp feet and, for the first time, questioned the efficacy of the pinky paper all folded neat. We agreed it probably hadn’t worked very well.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed it. I like White Rock Lake but I haven't been there in a long time.