A River Lament
My family and I live just down the road from the St. Croix River. There’s a public boat landing with some beautiful picnic grounds and a swimming beach about five miles from our house, and it’s right on the way to one of our usual grocery store destinations. Basically, it’s in the backyard and takes hardly any time or effort to go there.
This past Sunday, Eva and I loaded up a backpack with towels, a yellow bucket, graham bunnies and carrot sticks and headed to the beach area at the landing. Nick met us there after picking up some sandwiches from a local café and we had lunch in the shade of some big cottonwood trees. The temperature was approximately 78 degrees. The sun was shining, and there was a gentle breeze coming off the water. It wasn’t crowded. After lunch we walked on the warm soft sand to the water’s edge and stood in the refreshingly cold water while Eva played in the sand, making little rivers and islands in between bouts of ‘splooshing’ into the deeper water. We watched a lady swamp her kayak while getting out of it and smelled a few wafts of cigarette smoke from down the way, but other than that, it was a picture perfect afternoon.
At one point when I was standing knee deep in the water, I turned to take in the view to the south. You can see all the way out of the backwater where the beach is to the main river way, and the view is amazing. There are tree lined banks on either side of the slowly moving water that give way to a broader view of the main channel’s high bluffs in the background, their sheer cliffs commanding attention even at a distance. The further you look the more the details blur together into a haze of earthly beauty. You can feel the expansiveness of this wild river flowing on all sides, its energy a calm presence caressing the landscape. And as I stood there, marveling at the awesomeness of this place that is so close to home, I thought,
Why didn’t I come here more often this summer? It’s so close. It’s so great here. Summer’s almost over and I missed so many opportunities to do this.
In the midst of a beautiful moment, I found myself lamenting the fact that I hadn’t visited this place more frequently. Instead of simply being in the moment and fully enjoying it, I plucked myself out and started focusing on the experiences that never came into being on all the past summer days when I had chosen to be somewhere else.
So, I’m glad I went to the river this past Sunday, and I’m thankful I caught myself lamenting before I got completely sucked out of relishing in the moment. Because once you notice something like that, you’re more likely to notice it again. And again. And again until it dissolves because you aren’t lamenting anymore because your default has become focusing on the beauty that is right in front of you, not what’s missing around it. We all have a string of moments, and a string of consciousness that weaves them into how we experience life in this human form. I want my experience to be more about relishing in the moment instead of lamenting what might have been missed.
I have this idea that if I could do this, time might hold still for a second, and I would know, for just a moment, what it feels like to be here. ~ Tim Kreider