It was hot. Too hot. We sat on the front porch, flicking mosquitoes and melting into our beers. "What can we do?" I said.
"We can... I dunno," said Patrick. Coming up with things to do is my department.
"We can... take a bike ride, go get ice cream, build a campfire, open a bottle of wine, take a walk, go to the state park," I offered.
"Hmmm-mm," said Patrick, encouragingly.
But that wasn't it. I didn't want ice cream or a camp fire. It was definitely too hot for a bike ride. I sighed. "I just want to play in a creek." I grew up on a creek, or brook, actually. It was probably the best thing about my childhood. I've been drawn to them ever since. I put my chin on my hand to think. I consulted my beer.
Gilbertsville has two creeks. The larger of the two, Butternut Creek, makes big lazy S-curves east of town. The second, a mossy, athletic sort of creek is called Dunderberg Brook. It runs straight through the heart of the village, flanked on both sides by ten-foot-tall century-old stone walls. Up behind the stone church, I knew, it gives in to wildness, flowing through a shady gorge fringed with hemlocks. This is where we headed, in shorts and creek-approved sandals, yesterday evening.
We discovered the brook. For that magic hour between sunset and full dark, we clambered upstream on smooth brown rocks and slick mossy banks. We admired schools of trout fry in the shallows, and watched crayfish scuttle away into the silt.
A big part of why I love Patrick has to do with magic. We explore things together, and though I'm usually the more emphatic half of the couple, Patrick's quiet, laid back nature lets me get carried away in celebrating things like crayfish and trout fry. He is quiet, and the magic unfolds around us.
On a little shelf of land sticking out from an inside curve, we passed a stone fireplace and bench thoroughly upholstered with moss. It had been there a long time-- a fixture, we imagine, of the childhoods and young adolescences of Gilbertsvillians for many generations. We paused and explored, wondering how many of our middle-aged neighbors celebrated here as young men and women.
With twilight deepening, we decided it was probably better to not chance a turned ankle on slippery rocks in the dark. We turned around. We trudged back towards home, our water-logged sandals squidging behind us. I don't know what Patrick was thinking of-- but for myself, I was completely caught up in knowing our kids might enjoy a creek as the best thing about their childhoods. And thrilled that an evening of crayfish hunting and creek splashing is only a few blocks away for me.