I spent a lovely day playing at riverspirit54‘s house yesterday. She has the most beautiful spot by a narrow, shallow river with a broad sandy natural beach where we hang out, and a rock cliff with trees clinging to various spots on the other. From certain angles, it looks like something you’d see in Lord of the Rings for a close shot. Beautiful.
You might get the slight impression that I like hanging out by water I can swim in. A little hint here and there, maybe… I’m a water baby. I’ve taken vacations that did not revolve around water, and had a good time (especially if I was visiting a friend), but for the re-creation of my self, there needs to be water. If it’s natural water, that’s so much the better.
Obviously I love to swim and go to some trouble to ensure that I do regularly. And I don’t sneer at pools and chlorine and how awful the chemicals are. When it’s that or nothing, I assure you a waterless life is not going to be my choice. But, I prefer “real” water when I have the opportunity.
When I was a kid, we had a membership to a local pool. Summer afternoons, except Wednesdays because we had a swim meet and were not permitted to tire ourselves out, were spent there from about noon until time to make dinner. Daddy had a 16′ ski boat and on weekends, we’d be on Machodoc Creek1 or the Potomac river skiing, having a picnic and generally playing on the water. If we begged enough, Daddy would sometimes take us to one of a couple of dockside restaurants that served steamed crabs. OM NOM NOM NOM. Nuttin’ like a Maryland crab feast with hushpuppies. That was rare. The definition of a boat is “a hole in the water into which you pour money”, so the fun of the boat was meant to be the central fun.
A vacation meant water. We’d go to The Rivah2, or go with Nanny and Popie to Virginia Beach. If we went to Disney World, we’d usually drive and stop for one day at a beach on the way. We went to Nags Head a few times when I was young, and while from an objective point of view, it’s a better beach (wider, better waves, fewer people), Virginia Beach will probably always be The Beach in my heart. Going down 44 (oops, that’s 264 now…) and waving to the bunny3 brings back really deep memories to me.
But each body of water has its personality and its moods. It’s like getting to know a person, really. Playing in a body of water, you feel the way the currents move differently at different times of the day or how it responds to the wind in the sky and the pull of the moon. I think one of the reasons I love to play at riverspirit54‘s place so much is that her river (it’s always been her river to my family) has a powerful and soothing personality all its own.
1A branch of the Potomac near Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center with nice, calm water that’s fantastic for skiing
2My aunt and uncle have a place on the mouth of the Potomac at the Chesapeake Bay. If you say you’re going down to The Rivah for the weekend to any real Richmonder, they’ll know you don’t mean the James
3When you get on 264 and head to the oceanfront, on the left there is a u-store-it place that has a bunny as a logo. In years past, the bunny had an animated waving arm. When my brother and I were very small and so excited we would almost pop about going to the beach, my parents would have us look for the bunny and wave to it. This year when Daddy was driving us down from Fredericksburg, I insisted that my children wave to the bunny. They thought I was messing with them, but Daddy backed me up that this was Serious Beach Tradition, so they did as I asked. I don’t think they truly believed I wasn’t messing with them until greendalek came down a few days later and mentioned that he, too, had waved to the bunny.