Monday, September 13, 2010

Swimming with Otter

I am watching otter, how he

Plays in the water, how he

Displays brae underside to the

Wave-washings, how he

Breathes in descent trailing sudden

Strings of pears that tell

Almost, but never quite, where he is

Apt to rise-how he is

Gone, gone, so long I despair of him, then he

Trims, wetly, up the far shore and if he

Looks back he is surely

Laughing. I too have taken

Myself into this

Summer lake, where the leaves of the trees

Almost touch, where peace comes

In the generosity of water, and I have

Reached out into the loveliness and I have

Floated on my flat back to think out

A poem or two, not by any means fluid but,

Dear God, as you have made me, my only quickness.

Have I spoken of the Ichetucknee River here? If I repeat myself, then I do so, for I suspect that swimming in water is my only quickness. Or perhaps that is where my quickness, my talent, my gifts, my reason for living floats up out of my subconscious with any clarity. So I am drawn to speak of this river so that on land I may know that healing flow.

Every summer I go to the Ichetucknee. I pray that its waters will be clear of pollutant fed algae so that I may see beauty not just above the water, but below where fish flash, invertebrates sparkle, and river grass undulates like caressing healing hands as I swim over the top of this field of green. Such clarity has not been the river’s gift for the last couple of years, so murky have human desires changed this river. But in early September, I took a swim along the entire length – a 2 hour swim that when finished I knew what I was about.

In the middle of the swim we came upon a family of otters. Meredith, my spouse, held up behind me, in love. He’d never seen river otters before and here he was with his nose at their level, and only a few yards away. Well, I don’t know if he was in love, I never asked. But I was. How can one not be when I see otters snacking away on mussels, a husband grinning, and a river of wonder flowing in me, around me, through me, and between me and others, and otters.

What is your quickness?

1 comment:

  1. This brings back fond memories of a friendly muskrat that lived under the bank of our lake where our cottage was in Michigan. It's home was under a hugh oak tree amongst the roots. My father did not want the tree to lean any more or perhaps fall over into the lake as other trees had, so he tried to bring in a truck load of large rocks and another truck load of sand to support the tree. The crafty muskrat didn't let it bother him. He kept an entrance to his home. He also found the supports of our dock to be the ideal spot to sit and open the clam shells to eat the clam. It annoyed me because he'd drop the empty shell which would always land on the bottom open with sharp edges that would hurt or cut if stepped on when getting into the water from the dock. My annoyance would dissipate when he'd play games with me. I'd stand with my feet apart wiggling my toes in the cool sand of the bottom. He'd swim around and around circling between my legs. I'd try to trick him by moving, but he'd always find me. Each spring as the ice was breaking up I'd watch for him to reappear. Of course one year he did not come out from under the bank to play with me. It was fun while it lasted.