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  • Texas | Columns | "Once Upon A Line"

    The Company I Keep...

    by David Knape

    I will tell you about a place that is secret. I share the secret knowing
    you will never see it. Still it is worth mentioning, for to me it is a special place.
    There is this place I go. I just call it going down to the creek. The creek is a patch of wild
    surrounded by city. It is still wild in the sense that it is unexplored and unvisited.
    That is why I like it. It is my personal domain, for no one else comes down here.
    It is not handicap accessible. There is no entrance sign.


    The creek is hidden down in the woods. Invisible to passers-bye. They don't take
    their eyes off the road. Too busy coming and going. You have to get your hands and feet dirty to find it, but once there....


    You find incredible beauty. White rocky cliffs, river fern, green woods, wildflowers,
    and animals. Hawks and owls live here, and an assortment of native birds.
    Coons & Coyotes prowl its banks.
    You can see the signs they leave. Their footprints. Their trails.
    All here in this little patch of wild. Off the road. Under people's noses.


    The creek is just a little creek. Not much to it at all. But it has a rocky limestone base
    and so the water always runs clear. It makes a beautiful sound as it wiggles its way around the woods. Once in a while, I'll see a perch in it. Or a turtle. Maybe a snake.
    Schools of minnows swim in its blue pools. Each pool has its own school.
    The minnows run under rocks when they hear me coming. They somehow always know
    when I approach. They have nothing to fear. I bring no net. I have no gear.


    The tracks of wild animals are found on the creek's bank. Odd shapes left in the mud.
    You will see places where coons have dug. Where herons have waded.
    Where armadillos have dug.
    Coyotes run through here at night, hunting rabbits. Working their way into the neighborhoods,
    in search of cats or poodles.


    Along the cliffs there are seeps where the water trickles out in mini springs.
    The rock then becomes stained. Turned orange by the iron in the soil. Huge chunks of these rocks fall off the cliff face exposing fascinating fossils. Fern shapes and ammonites are engraved
    in these rocks.
    Almost every fallen rock uncovers something. It is like opening a present.
    After a rain, I can't wait to see what new thing has opened. What new surprise exposed.


    Another thing interesting about the creek is that it changes with every rain. This little creek
    catches water from many neighborhoods, so when it rains all the run-off flows through it.
    Consequently its channel changes with every rain. It moves over, left or right. Sometimes
    it leaps its boundaries. You can see the high-water mark by the debris in the trees and along the bank. The little stream can be quite willful, going where it wants to go. Even a little creek
    can be contrary once in a while.


    Where the creek goes under the highway is a tunnel. It is dark as a cave.
    The entrance looks like a cave. Dark and daunting. But to me it is inviting.
    Begging for exploration.
    Inside, there is just enough light to see toward the distant opening on the other end.
    I like to walk in here. The water runs under my boots so I have to be careful not to slip.
    Careful not to trip on the limbs or debris washed down in past rains.
    I can hear the cars above me, the rumble of the roaring herds.
    No one above knows the cave is down here. No one knows I am below them, being run over. Literally. Still it is safe here.
    As cool as a real cave, and the trickle of the water is pleasant to my ear.
    I am happy...


    Happy as the creek itself, singing its little creek song.
    Happy that it can find its own way. That it has been left alone to be a creek,
    not a drainage ditch or sewer. Running free, making its own way, like it has done for
    hundreds of years.


    I find it odd that no one comes down to the creek, but me. This creek is such an idyllic place.
    A place where one can find beauty and find oneself, in solitude.
    But I think it is that all sense of exploration has been bred out of our citizens, our selves.
    Children do not explore anymore. The have lost interest in the out of doors.
    They have their computers. Their video games. Their ever-present phones.
    People keep to the comfortable. The easy sidewalks and straight streets. They have become uncomfortable with nature but comfortable with pavement.


    Me, I find the hidden places. Those places where nature still has a hold. The natural places
    where you can still walk on grass, feel the softness of the ground beneath your feet.
    I speak to trees. I sing with creeks.
    I keep company with the wild.


    © d.knape

    July 14, 2013
    More "Once Upon A Line" - Light verse and poetry by d.knape
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