I just got back from a family reunion in my home town of Park Ridge, New Jersey. Getting my children reaquainted with all their long lost cousins was a blast, albeit a bit overwhelming at times. We could tell that my mom was reaching critical mass and needed a few moments to herself before the 30 some odd family members arrived. My brother suggested that we all hike down to Bear Brook; our childhood hideaway. Not quite prepared in the jeweled sandals I was wearing, I had a memory flash of the time I went down there on Roller Skates and was no worse the wear.
Our journey was full of stories for the four cousins (ages 3-8), stories about our daredevil antics, wildlife encounters, and especially about our most prized treasures found in the brook; fossils, rocks, and crayfish. The kids were interested, but when we mentioned Dead Man’s Cave their eyes got big and they were hooked. Dead Man’s Cave was the local urban myth about a small cave in Bear Brook where a man was frozen to death one winter. The rumor was that if you looked hard enough into the cave you could see his skeleton. When we finally got to the cave and although there weren’t any skeletons, we found a chair that had fallen into the water. The children decided that the man died because he fell off his chair and into the water. Hence, the next generation has been inspired.
There is just something about going to a brook, creek, river, or lake that starts when you are a child and follows you the rest of your life. I’m writing this now with a sore back because I spent most of my visit to Bear Brook hunkered over looking for fossils, rocks, and of course, crayfish. This must be why I ended up in the North Georgia Mountains. This whole area including Big Canoe is chock full of crystal clear creeks rushing down sheets of bedrock and splashing into pools under a canopy of everchanging hardwoods. Visitors that flock to this area and are often found in our creeks with their cuffs rolled up and shoes tied over their shoulders smiling, splashing, and searching for whatever it is they feel they might find.
Some believe life comes from water. I don’t know if it is true or not but given a choice I will always live near water.