It’s been over a month since my mom died. I still occasionally find myself driving over to her apartment after work to visit. Sometimes I’ll want to tell her something. To reach her these days, I need a completely different vehicle.
I found a nice spot on the Fish River, a small park, under a canopy of cedar, magnolia, pine, and live oak.
It’s quiet, clear, and sunny with gusts from the west blowing overhead, with an occasional swirl upriver. Pollen, leaves, catkins, and pine needles float by on the river current.
A brown magnolia leaf, curved just right, keel down and canoe-shaped like it was made just for the water, is lifted off the shoreline by the river.
It’s floating for the current, closer to the far side of the river, but slowly. Now, it’s outside of the swiftest part of the current but moving closer to it. Finally, the leaf is collected into the fast flow. I watch it as it rounds the bend. I don’t know how far it’s going to make it.
Maybe the leaf will float all the way to my coworker Danielle’s house, near the confluence of the Fish River and Weeks Bay.
Then again, I suspect another stretch of river, where it is wide, deep, and rough will capsize mother earth’s canoe. Once capsized, she’ll rock back and forth cradle-like through the water until she rests on the bottom, joining the leaves from springs of yesteryear.
As I lift my head up to enjoy the scenery, I jumped out my seat…scared by a shadow of a red-tailed hawk. Now that I’m up I wander around the shoreline a bit. The water is clear closest to the river bank, thanks to the sandy bottom. Minnows flinch from nibbling at my footstep, and dance away with one another, and then return.
With a hand on a cedar, I gaze at the water and see a bubble, not a ripple from a fish kissing the surface, but a small bubble, rising from the darker, black bottom. I walk closer. From below the layer of leaves, sticks, and decomposing black river bottom, two more bubbles rise. Freshwater mussel, crawfish? Whatever it is, it’s so happy to be alive in the river’s dead organic matter, it sends up three more bubbles.
Returning to my seat I notice another magnolia leaf is gathered up by the river. It moves upriver for several yards, and is caught in an eddy, not far from the bubbles. The leaf circles, circles faster on the second spin and catches the main current. I decide to stay and watch a few more leaf launchings.
Mom and I enjoyed our visit along the river. We had a nice conversation too. I sent leaf letters and she replied in word bubbles.