Monday, May 22, 2006

Sweetwater

In Moon, Rose and her friends drink water from the stream. It is unlikely there is a stream anywhere in this country from which one can safely drink these days. This is a great sadness. My children have never known the delicious taste of water from a mountain stream. Very likely, my grandchildren will miss that incredible pleasure as well.

But I remember. Squatting on the firm, hard-packed river bank, I dipped my hands into icy water that sparked with sunlight and the glint of micas and quartz gravels not a foot under the surface. I yelped at the cold, even in the middle of summer, hands shaking almost immediately as I lifted them to my face, sucking the water between my teeth.

My lips felt instantly numb, but I grabbed handful after handful of pure liquid. It tasted so good. I drank enough to make my belly ache and my teeth chatter with the cold.

That was Oregon in July, half a century gone.