In the past two years I’ve taken up kayaking. Most of my trips have been in the local creeks and rivers here in South Mississippi. I really don’t know why it took me so long.
I grew up on the bluffs overlooking the Leaf River. I spent many days camping on the sandbars, learning to swim, catching catfish, and exploring the deep woods along its banks. Invariably, when playing with friends, we’d end up at the river. And if we could get in a swim without getting in trouble with our parents, we did.
There’s something about the river that draws me. I think of the water as it flows, eventually emptying in the Gulf of Mexico. Part of me wants to accompany the water and see the path to the sea for myself. I think of the drops of water themselves. What roads have they taken to become part of the river at that very moment? Had they been in this river before? Would they ever return?
I think about the Native Americans that lived along these same bluffs before being driven away. We often find remnants of their lives – pieces of a past so foreign and yet so present. Did Choctaw boys find their way to the white sand and think similar thoughts? Did they wish to wander the wet strand to see where it ended? I’m sure of it, and the river connects me with them.
How many fathers have stood along my river’s banks and skipped rocks with their children? And will my children share these moments with my grandchildren? These thoughts and others are with the river as it flows into the sea, cutting its well-worn path through time and trees.