Above water (not about Hurricane Dorian)

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 8, 2019

Mack Williams

River-goers are used to seeing slider turtles lined up on exposed river rocks, and on logs adjacent the river, and also resting on logs stuck sideways between bridge pilings like giant “pick-up-sticks” (glad no “cutesy” commercial spelling “STYX” was ever applied to that game, giving it a Classical (but “grave”) aura.

In these turtles’ case, the “solid rock” upon which they stand (or rather, sprawl) is sometimes made of wood.

Some denizens of the water seem to be as prone to displaying what looks like “water magic” as was the late Harry Houdini. Not being a water person, I first saw one of them in the old Golden Nature Guide,”Insects.” It was a “water skimmer,” looking more like a long-legged spider than anything else, certainly not resembling the straw “skimmer” boating, gondolier-style hat, or one of those fast Polynesian boats “skimming” the Pacific.

Swimmers encounter a variety of life, both great and microscopically small (paraphrasing Sir Arthur Sullivan) while swimming in a natural pond (what I like to call “hay infusion swimming”).

When our sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Roselyn Misenheimer, took us to Granite Lake on our end-of-school picnic, I remember sitting at the edge of the water and wondering just what all was in there! In the water’s more transparent edge near the Yadkin-sand “beach,” I saw a few tadpoles swimming, reminding me of what can be seen in some vernal pools.

Since Granite Lake’s relatively small body of water (if it hasn’t been drained, I haven’t been there in a while) is also tugged on by the moon’s gravity, it may have “tides” measured in the smallest fraction of a millimeter (no worry of its “coast” (Granite Quarry) being threatened by future rises in its water level).

There are emotional times in all of our lives when we feel like we’re walking in a “quaking bog,” which is a type of “turfy” ground only held together by an extensive system of fibrous roots.

I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll give it a different angle now: there was one church in Danville near the Dan River which, during time of flooding last year, put sand bags at the entrances. Although I have no doubt this church stood upon the “solid rock,” they also knew that bagged sand doesn’t sink, if its stacked right.

I’ve also got some physically “solid rock” (ceramic and titanium) inside me to make my foothold much less “quaky” than my prior-surgery time.

Just the other day, I saw a great blue heron seemingly just standing on top of the water, like one of those water skimming bugs, but it wasn’t skimming, just standing tall. I assumed it was standing on a river rock right at the water’s surface.

The combination of its subtle blue with the unseen (but certain) rock upon which it was resting, made me think of that blue ice sliding from glaciers into the sea, later forming icebergs, the majority of which lies below the water’s surface (much to the peril of the R.M.S Titanic).

But I thought of a positive connotation in the case of the heron and us.

Some of the oldest of us have bent shoulders, but we’re still walking along, and as the Ghost of Christmas Past said “Held up in more than this!” He could have just as well have said “Supported by more in our lives than that which is readily seen.

Just as that heron had his “below-surface rock” supporting him, we have the old unseen “iceberg” part of each of us holding us up, that old blue ice being our past, a past in which things were sometimes slid around, shuffled, and refitted, but all of that produced more supportive strength, the purpose: to keep us going, to “keep us above water.”

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