The hill going down to the creek is a lot like the rest of my life right now. Debris from the logging operation several years ago and the brush clearing last year makes it hard to walk. Between the shredded wood and baseball sized rocks that are common around here from the 1849 miner's tailings, it was the typically difficult walk to Wolf Creek. With short money from not enough freelance jobs and delays in payments from my key client, along with the entropy of my house and property... the walk to Wolf Creek proved an eerie parallel.
Since nothing has been done for a year, the blackberry brambles and buckbush have worked overtime to fill in the empty space opened up by the brush hog. It is over 100 degrees today too, with some humidity, and so the thought of a 1pm project doesn't really make sense. Unless your options are limited and the boil inside is hotter than it is outside. And that's how it was for me today. I needed the catharsis of beating the ground to a pulp.
The hollow where Wolf Creek lies is always a little cooler than the top of the hill where the house bakes in the exposed south sun. The paint on the house is cracked and the siding warped where I know there is more dry rot. So many projects to be done there, all of them costing money, and I cannot lift a finger to spend one more dime on it. So, to the creek I went with manual tools. A weed whacker, hard rake, shovel, machete and a bottle of water. The kids accompanied me, but didn't last, the heat is wilting, and Dusty was sick two days ago with the flu. He was feeling weak. So it was really me against the weeds.
I hacked and dug, pulled and thrashed until I could hardly stand. Completely covered in sweat, my body was a web of tributaries. It was hot enough to do what I have not considered for a long time. Not since three years, seven months ago. The last time I was in that creek, I was unconscious facing upward as my wife begged me to move my legs to help her help me out of the water. That was January, 2006.
I looked at the dog swimming in the creek, Devon wading in it with Mei An and Tynan. Anxiety was the emotion I felt. They all got out and went up to the house, so I kept clearing the area on the bank of the water. My body was crying to sit down. My mind was filled with a combination of rage and sorrow. So I kept cutting the chest high grasses and brambles.
My grip was weakened by exhaustion though and when I drew back with the machete, it launched... into the creek.
I tried to scrape it out with the shovel to no avail. I thought about calling Devon back to go in, but I doubt he could hear me with the windows shut up to keep the air conditioned house cool.
So there was only one thing to do. I went in. The water was cold. The perfect antidote to the hot air. But I got out as soon as I found the machete. Then a little later, after finding it hard to do anything more, I waded in and fell forward under the water. I pulled a few strokes and thought how ironic it was that I was even here to be refreshed by this same creek. I got out and had Devon, who had returned to see what progress I'd made, take the picture here.
I'm still anxious as hell, but at least I am still here to feel it.