Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dude, where's my bike?

Aidan and I finally went on an adventure I had been anticipating since the day he was born -- we went out to play in a creek. There's a sizable series of creeks and wetland about a mile from our house, so Aidan rode out on his bike with our boots in his basket. We parked his bike beside the side of the road, put on our boots, and waded out into bottomland. I was having all kinds of flashbacks to my own childhood . . . climbing over logs, vaulting over streams with sticks, watching clouds of mud drift through the water . . .

As we went further back into the woods, I noticed that some of the streams were significantly wider and deeper. Looking at one section, it almost looked like a natural dam, where sticks had trapped leaves and mud and backed up the water a bit. "Huh," I think, the thought just beginning to dawn on me as I turn around and look upstream, and there it is, unquestionably, a beaver dam. A freakin' beaver dam -- and Aidan and I had just been to the Museum of Natural Science and seen recreations of dams. I started looking around, and sure enough, I saw the gnawed-off points of trees the beavers had downed. Aidan was excited, but truthfully I think I was more excited.

And there we were, sitting on a log, staring at a huge deep pond that another species had engineered, when suddenly I realized that a truck had stopped on the road, back where we had left Aidan's bike. I had seen other cars and trucks pass, and slow down as they passed the bike, but this one had stopped. And wasn't moving. And now another thought is dawning on. "Aidan, stay right here. I'll be right back," and I go tearing through the woods, jumping over streams and ripping through briars. I'm maybe twenty yards away when I see someone getting back in his pickup truck and drive on. As I walk out onto the road, I see him pulling away. And thank God, the bike is still there.

I pull the bike back from the road and behind some high grass, and I see Aidan toiling his way toward me. I go back to him and explain why I went running off, and he gets really anxious. "We need to go home right now," he says, and he doesn't even begin to settle down until he is reunited with his bike. "I wish now we hadn't come here at all," he says. So the rest of the walk home, I'm explaining that it's ok, we can hide his bike in the future, and besides, the guy might have just been curious and not thinking about stealing the bike. He accepts it, and his anxiety fades, but I can tell he has had his first brush with Loss, and he will remember this. I just pray our miraculous beaver dam discovery is not completely erased by it.


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