Sunday, 16 July 2017

Finding Islands in Plain Sight

rollingshortsweb

My home town is bisected by a river and in the very centre of town, the river splits into three to make two islands.  On the first island is most of the down town shops, the town hall, the band stand and part our gem, Stewart Park.  The other island has the rest of Stewart Park, a play ground and three very expensive houses.

The part of the river that splits the park is everyone's favourite.  In mid-July when our town hosts its music festival in the park, anyone brave enough to ignore the high bacterial count warnings (thanks to the farms up river) splashes and floats down the river to cool off while listening to the folksy rhythms.  In the middle of this section there is another island, a small island, that is a granite outcropping about the size and girth of a transport trailer with one brave willow and few bushes struggling, straggling, to make a living.

For years there has been a dam that has been failing, making the river too high and too swift to cross to get to the granite outcropping.  Last year, the dam was replaced by a natural rock gateway, and the river has been quieted.  So it came to be that my son, whose lived here his whole life, and his cousin, who has been here three days, had a new island to conquer together.  

The park was filled with hundreds of people with lawn chairs or blankets, and a few with dancing shoes and hippy moves.  Breastfeeding mothers,  carefree retirees, picnicking families, city folk and locals, all crammed into our little park.  So of course, these two quiet gentle boys saw space and adventure on that island.  I saw friendship.

One was afraid of wasps near the shore and the other coaxed him past.  They hugged each other for balance as they navigated the slippery rocks and little current.  The other slipped and got his shorts wet and they laughed and said "That's okay!" forgetting about their mothers a whole universe away.

And so they arrived on their island, and they tried to catch a frog, and they stole an old mussel shell from the river, and giggled about things I couldn't hear.  They conquered their island, found joy in the day.  And that is how two boys, almost strangers three days earlier, become fast friends.

rivercrossingweb

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