Washed Away


“I guess you haven’t gotten to the river lately,” my son’s doctor said to me this morning.  My younger son, doing his best impression of a weary adult, sighed, rolled his eyes, and replied, “No, we’ve been there every day.” I smiled ands shrugged. “Yep,” I said, “Every day.”

Although I claimed yesterday as a day off, in the end, it wasn’t.  When the boys got home from school, my older son was eager to see how high the water had risen, and, despite some complaining from his younger brother about how we wouldn’t really be able to do anything, we set out with our bikes and bags. We found that the Monocacy had risen high enough to fill even its secondary streams up to their highest banks.  Passage to the island was impossible, our usual dam and bridges submerged 6 feet under rushing, brown water. Newly fallen trees, too, blocked our passage, gathering in their dark limbs the leaves, seeds and small sticks that will become the little mouse boats my son gathers once the water recedes and the sun dries the mud.

Every flood reshapes the river.  I can see why my oldest is so eager to see it after the rain. The “hideout” will be the same in general outline, but so different in particulars. The force of the high waters will undo what he has done, what he has built, and so will offer the chance to do something new.  He sees opportunity, a world wiped clean. His brother, on the other hand, sees the destruction of his efforts, misses what was, and feels discouraged about having to start over again. This conflict of ideas is as constant as the rain lately.

For me, the flood waters will leave behind, on the shores I have so diligently cleaned, trash from miles upstream. There are two ways to look at this: I can be frustrated that I have to start all over again, or I can be pleased that I have new work. Today I choose to be pleased.

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