Water and Walking

Blog Post Janet and Huffman Prairie
    When my sister, Janet, was hospitalized I flew back to Ohio to be with her. My childhood friends, Carla and Victoria, picked me up at the airport and got me to my sister and later to my hotel room. They took care of me, as friends do. In between hospital visits, we visited a couple of places of our growing up years, and I was reminded of the huge difference in Ohio and the Sonoran Desert - the water everywhere, and the water hard to find. 
    Living in a dry and thirsty land, these places of water are never far from my mind. The creeks where I floated leaf boats and chased them until they escaped me, or capsized. I caught worms and water spiders and gathered tiny drops to put on a microscope slide and watch a secret world unfold. Walking along a creek to find where it started or ended would take me pretty far from home. I never found the source, or the end, except once. Mom would make me peel off the wet and muddy clothes in the garage so she could check for ticks. She never told me not to do it again. She knew I would.
    I walked alone frequently as a child. I needed to walk outside, I craved it. If even for a few minutes before getting in the car for church, I would be in the yard, checking under the forsythia bush for I don’t know what; venturing way to the back of our half acre to a pine tree my father planted after Christmas one year; bent over searching the lawn for signs of clover and other spring blooms. 
    Later, pre-teen years, I would stroll out in the early gloaming, usually to a wooded lane, paralleled by a creek, that lead to an old barn and shed. It seemed a long enough walk, maybe a mile to get to the old buildings that had likely been upright and weather tight during the French and Indian War. Trees lining both sides of the two track created a tunnel of cool air in the summer. In the fall, it was a spectacular walk through bright autumn leaves of Oak and Walnut trees. Winter made the tunnel a wonderland - branches and the last of the barely hanging on leaves were iced over, frozen in time and my memory. 
    The neighborhood where we lived is not huge, but the homes all sit on larger property than most places today, so it seems to sprawl some, and yards were, and still are, tree covered and well-kept. There were three places where farm fields were built around, and two of those fields had horses in them. To jump the fence and ride was worth the not knowing what temperament those horses might have had. Often enough I went over the fences to just be in the company of horses, one hand on a back, the other pulling grass offerings; running my fingers through mane and forelock to remove tangles; resting in that quiet place of horses which slows the heart, clears the mind and lets one believe hopes and dreams will be fulfilled. 
    As a teen I would go alone or with friends to the banks of the Little Miami River, where I, and they, were compelled to walk with reverence; where I could hear the moccasined footfalls of Native runners as they carried news; where, floating in the air above me, were the voices of women and children singing and laughing at the river side. To stand on the bank watching the river tumble to sparkle, and know who stood in the spot before me, hunting, fishing, gathering. 
    This creek in this photo is beside Huffman Prairie, where the Wright Brothers flew their bi-planes and taught aviation school. Orville and Wilbur and their bicycle shop are new History. Yet, there is old History still present in these places. Tecumseh, Blue Jacket, Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Cornstalk; they walked here, hunted here, lived here. Look there, through the trees. They are beckoning you, they want to tell you a story.
Go, and listen. 
 

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