The world sags under the weight of drenching rains. Bird song competes with the sloshing of tires speeding past on the road. The air is damp and tired. A chill permeates everything. It is not a day to be outdoors, especially when warmer jackets are packed away ready for the coming move. The last day of the long weekend, the beginning of camping for many.
There is a quiet around me as I sit in my home. Memories stirring are pleasant. The smell of wood fire. The slightly whipping crack of the tarp protecting us from the falling rain. My mind captures a moment past when we were just children on a family campout playing a game of cards while we waited for the rain to lift. The fighting and nattering of cousins together is silenced, quieted by the dampness in the air.
Matthew and I get into a game of Crazy Eights that seems to be without end. Back and forth we challenge each other, our earlier arguing forgotten. The curtain falls and the memory ends. This little window flows into other water memories as we forded the shallow stream to the pebbled beach of a small island splitting the stream in two. We imagined there that we were coming upon the place for the first time, natives to this world of rock and greenery, of the gurgling sound of the nearby stream, the gentle brushing of the leaves playing together.
In the spirit of mindfulness I don’t try to push the edges of the memories, nor do I try to untie the timelines. I feel the edges pressing in but I am quiet as I remember this place from childhood. The Duckabush is a place of family memories.
Almost three years ago, I sat with my father and my small computer looking at the pictures from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. My brother had moved to the area and reveled in the lush greenness. As my father sees the pictures he remember the Duckabush and camping trips there.
Bill: Walking along the river trail also reminded me of the Duckabush which is about an hour from our house.…
Andie: Dad says “I’ll meet you at the old camping place on the Duckabush at 3:30 on November 11, 2012. Be sure to have a tent for me and fishing equipment and I’ll show you where the best fishing places are.” Dream! Dream! Dream!
There would be no meeting in November. As I typed my dad’s words onto the screen my brother and I both knew that his battle with cancer was nearing its end. More, dementia had scrambled the files of dad’s life so he did not always connect to reality. Yet for all the pain we felt when his dementia turned mean, it gifted him with the ability to remember mixed moments of life for most of his last weeks, surprised when he would see his skin hanging loose around his hungry bones. Those moments with my brother’s pictures would be a calling card for the gentler side of my dad in the days ahead. He would find peace in remembering.
The weight of the rain hangs heavy in the air but inside the sounds of water bring memories to sit lightly in my heart, memories of a moment full of love, a rekindling from the past. Today, my mindful gift is the falling rain.
* The stream pictures were taken by my brother, Bill.