Twigs crack beneath my feet as I shuffle down the slope. The afternoon sunlight makes the leaves glisten above my head. Songbirds chirp and squirrels chitter. The scent of crisp, fresh air fills my nostrils as a cool, spring breeze descends across the woods. Up ahead, old Bowman babbles and burbles.
It’s been years since I’ve seen the brook up close. As I approach the sandy bank, I see footprints of several others who have come and gone. The anxious raccoon scavenging for breakfast. Mother deer and daughter fawn stopping to take a drink. A flock of passerby turkeys just moseying along.
I turn my attention to the old creek’s waters, mesmerized by the current. Far from a stagnant stream, Bowman is ever-changing. Bowman may rise in the spring, and Bowman may lower in the summer. Sometimes Bowman bubbles and froths. But no matter the season or time of day, Bowman is always on the move.
The distinct chicka-dee-dee-dee-dee sound from above brings me back to reality. I turn towards my house at the top of the hill, a white blob partially hidden behind the scattered pines and maples. There is still so much work for me to do.
Turning back towards Bowman, I look into the waters again. The waters where my brother and I would race sticks as kids. The waters that I fell into one time because I was reckless enough to think I could jump across to the opposite bank. The waters that I have long forgotten until now. Staring back at me is my distorted self. One whose reflection wobbles in the brook. One whose face shifts and changes with Bowman’s current. Like the saplings of this very forest, one who has yet to become who she is truly supposed to be.
As I make my way up the slope, the sun’s rays dim as silvery clouds pass over up above. I see birds flutter away and squirrels bound from branch to branch. The wind is at my back now, along with Bowman, and as I return home, I don’t turn around. For I, too, have left tracks in the sand.