Friday, July 30, 2010

A Walk

There isn’t much here. A gravel drive that stops at a paved bridge over a small stream. We park among the trees and muscadine vines. We exit the car and head toward the bridge. In the muted light of dawn the stream below us is all shadow and swift-moving current.

We cross and follow the winding path, the stream on our left. The wooded area between the path and the stream is alive with dew-flecked spider webs, squirrels scurrying through tree branches, and the occasional lizard hurrying from view. To the right there is a large expanse of fenced in grass scattered with piles of branches and discarded wood. Far in the distance a herd of horses are running, circling the trees.

The sun is low in the sky but the summer heat has already begun to rise from the concrete trail. David stops to peer into the creek.

“Look, Abby, over here in the stream,” he says.

He points out a snake that’s cutting a disappearing shape through the water, making its way toward the opposite bank. The snake’s movements are eerie. It slithers, forming esses with it’s long, thin body. Its head pokes up above the surface. A chill runs up my spine and a verse surfaces from the stockpile of my memory.

“Then the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:14 & 15)

We continue. Soon we come upon another bridge where the stream begins to widen. Below us minnows dart to and fro in the shallow water. We can just hear the dull roar of water rushing. The path makes a large curve and in the center a view of the waterfall opens before us. To the right, a path is worn through tall grass and wildflowers. We follow this path to the edge of a cliff that overlooks the stream.

Ahead of us the water falls over a rocky cliff. Sun rays stream through the trees, casting spotlights on the falling water. I take off my sunglasses and squint, allowing my eyes to adjust to the bright light of the rising sun. Already, sweat beads at my temples and falls in little rivulets down my face. The back of my shirt is wet and I feel alive.

We head back to the trail and enjoy the shade of the surrounding trees. Soon the trail opens into the sunlight. We follow a sharp turn to find a bench that’s been strategically placed for an optimum view of the falls.

We sit.

Ahead of us another bridge spans the rocky walls that hold the widening stream. Later we will learn that this stream is a part of the west fork of the Trinity. It will continue to widen until it joins another vein to grown into a true river.

David takes my hand and leads me out onto the arching bridge. He points out the nests of spawning fish. Little circles of gravel in the stream where the fish has fanned out the soil to create a place to lay her eggs.  Each circle has a small fish stationed in the center, guarding the next generation; its reason for being.  We watch the guards perform their duties and turn back.

Clearing the bridge, we can see the huge stones, hewn from some quarry and brought with much effort to form a frame for the waterfall and its stream.

As we pass the falls, we see two small goats, white coats speckled with brown and black spots. They traverse the stone wall on the opposite side of the falls. Eager to get a better view we follow the path through the grass to the head of the falls. The water is only a few inches deep.

I tread across the water, setting each step down firmly, careful not to slip on the slick rock.  David follows, widening my footsteps in the mossy water. At our approach the goats amble up into the treeline. I round the trees and catch them hiding in the speckled sunlight. One reaches its neck up to chew a leaf, like a baby rooting for his mother’s milk.