Meramec River Boys – A Sequel to Black River Boys

Meramec River Boys – A Sequel to Black River Boys

D. J. Heatherly / July 27, 2014

 

Happy smiles from a proud grandma greet my grandsons upon their arrival.

I hug them hello feeling tight little arms wrap around my soul.

First things first.

They remove their shoes and run inside to assess the sleeping arrangements.

Well-taught and well-mannered.

They know the rules of the Raptor as instructed by Vernon.

Dylan climbs up the loft with his pillows and his thoughts.

Devin quickly follows.

Together, they stretch out for a total of 3 minutes, planning their next move.

Zip down the ladder, zoom out the door to explore.

An old cedar swingset sits 500 yards away.

We keep them in our sights giving them their space.

Two brothers swing and giggle uninhibited.

I join them.

Fearless, Devin swings willy-nilly in an attempt to hit the swing posts.

I grab a pair of ankles to suspend Dylan in mid swing.

A tangible memory floods my senses.

A palpable push that propels me back in time.

I recall how I swung them as toddlers.

I describe the feel of their tiny backs as I gently pushed, reminding them to hold on tight, and to swing their sweet, skinny legs.

I tell them how much they liked to be swung by Grandma.

Dylan says, “Show me.”

I grab his 9 year old ankles. Stronger now, and capable of hiking, running, tree climbing, pedaling.

I grab a hold and push him back, then, I run behind him, grab the swing to delay momentum, which always made him nervously giggle when he was a tot.  He roars with delight.

Love flourishes when laughter abounds.

Devin wants the same, of course, so I repeat the process.

“Again” they say in unison just as they did years ago.

Their legs are now too long for a swingset however who can resist reliving past moments?

Later, after dinner, it’s back to the old swingset again.

Perched in the swing, Dylan is stretched out, laid out parallel to the ground.

“Look at the sky!” he yells with wonderment.

I look up to see a jet black night glittering with silver stars.

At that moment my sweet mom is with me.

I tell the boys my belief that stars are the energy and spirit of good people who have left this earth.

“Yes. I know.” Dylan says. “My grandma Jean is up there. And dad’s dad, Chuck.”

I want to cry. Instead I smile and hug him and Devin tight.

Early morning awakens us. We eagerly prepare for a 6-mile float.

Skin slathered with SPF. Skulls protected with bandanas.

A school bus like none they have ever ridden awaits us.

Loaded with coolers full of beer. And adults full of excitement.

Cracked windows with a solitary spider hanging on for dear life on a web.

Blows into the bus as the bus driver picks up speed careening around a corner.

I scream as Bobby rescues us by closing the window.

Startled by a loud pop, we all jump in our seats!

Dylan’s window has been hit.

Realizing it was a water balloon thrown by a random camper, we all laugh.

Except Dylan is not laughing. He barely manages a smile.

I imagine the many scenarios running through his head. All the questions he has. All the reasons. Why was it his window? All the what-ifs. He is a deep thinker.

Scramble to the raft.

Attach tubes to the raft for the kids, to which Dylan and Devin’s faces say it all before they even speak it.

No Way!

Scared of snakes striking. Fear of fish biting.

“It’s an adventure” I encourage.

They bravely get in their tubes and we take off!

We move at a snail’s pace.

Dangling legs in the murky Meramec River.

Fear of unknowns’ unseen in the water.

Anxiety overwhelms Dylan.

“We are survivalists!” I tell the boys, as I get in his tube as he takes my place in the raft.

“Ahhh, this feels sooo good.” I smile. And it did, so happy to share this day with them!

In a valiant attempt later, Dylan gets back on a tube.

Trepidation of turtles. Worry about the white water.

“Lift your bottoms up.” His mom and I say together approaching faster moving “rapids” so river rocks would not bump them.

Dylan straightens his entire self out on top of the tube, elongated and nearly hyperventilating with worry.

We laughingly decide it is time to give up the tubes.

Eight people and 2 coolers in a 6-man raft.

The tubes glide empty behind us as we fill up the raft with gaity and contentment.

Boys on swingDylan Tube

Advertisements

The Huntsman

Static from the Motorola alerts me.

His whispered voice asks if I can hear him.

Urgently I pick up the walkie/talkie.

“Yes”, I whisper back.

Quietly, he tells me the bait has not been hit.

Anything can happen.

It might return tonight.

I whisper into the black device “Tonight it will happen. I feel it”.

His randy response, “I know something will happen tonight. With or without that bear”.

 

>Black River Boys

Black River Boys (2006)

D.J. Heatherly Hall

Prepare, pack, plan, provide

Sun, hugs, mud, bugs

Filthy fingers. Happy feelings

Finding tree stars and tree nuts

Four-wheeling to a fishing spot

Our little bit of paradise

Where the River runs shallow and secluded.

Floating in clear coolness with eyes full of brightness

Dylan’s curiosity along with Devin’s sweet smiles.

Brings contentment to the family.

 

Small voice questioning all around us

What are those lines?

As Dylan points to the ripples in the water

Bordering us silently, moving as we slowly glide.

What is that sound?

Listening to concealed birds screech over head.

What are those things?

Looking intently at the polished pebbles under foot.

Tiny fishes scatter in all directions

Yet, the plastic red one is continually caught

Proudly on the end of Dylan’s reel.

 

Canoeist’s float towards us

Small talk begins. They comment

about our boys in the River.

Devin coyly smiles at them

Dylan shyly looks away, grinning.

Canoeist’s drift lazily past us

And Dylan quietly says to me,“I did not talk”.

 

Heather and Bobby take a walk, take a break

Alone together to float downstream.

Dylan tells me, “I can’t see.”

“See what?” I ask.

“My best friends” he says in his small voice.

He misses his mom and dad.

They are his world.

Minutes later he sees them floating towards us

he points at them excitedly with his whole self smiling.

 

Back at our camp site quick showers

Washing away sunscreen and sweat

Primed for evenings’ bug spray and smoke

Blued-eyed dimpled Devin bounces happily in his walker

As we work our magic on the grill.

 

Snuggled in their tent, our boys doze off before dark.

Time for adults. Starry nights and wine lead to talk

About life, the future, and The Universe.

 

Rise and shine to a dewy day.

Dylan chases his early morning shadows.

While running from hand monsters.

“It’s getting me, it’s getting me.”

Giggling all the while.

 

Early a.m. energy and excitement.

Stooping, exploring, digging, collecting

Acorns, rocks, leaves, memories.

Arms wide with joy, high stepping and spinning.

“Whats happening to me?” Dylan laughs.

His feet, in constant motion.

 

Coffee savored over warmth of the fire.

Simple moments make the grandest of occasions.

Dylan’s sweet comments and Devin’s carefree smiles.

Our Black River Boys.

 

 

Valle’s Rock

Valle’s Rock

 

I am told of a sacred place of hunting ground

Of which he will take me

Sooner than the sun sets in the west

We trail a creek up a steep incline

A beehive appearing boulder

Rises in solitude near the bluffs

Among the pines, ash and oaks

Of the Shawnee National Forest

This mammoth of magnificence reaches 25 feet tall

 

As he shows me this tribute to Valle

A natural granite ladder leads to elation

Hands, without hesitation, pull me skyward bound

Feet sturdy on unyielding rungs of purity

I tread steps of topography seldom trekked

Reaching the pinnacle

I am solidly secure in the moment

Of our love atop an immovable existence.

39 North

Atikokan bound

I hear silence inside a

Kaleidoscope of pines.

Abundant giants tower over

Scrappy saplings with gangly, leggy limbs

Amidst palomino pony trunks of birch.

Proudly, they proclaim space as I pass

Through unruly rough hewn timber.