by Jim McCullough, Midlothian, VA

Story prompt: Write your own river story…

See the casual grace. The nonchalance. The unmitigated power. Yeah, we’re talking water. And we played in it a lot this week. Then something happened. It got hot. We got tired. We slowed down. And that’s when the noticing started happening. “When I put my foot here, the water gets big. It makes it wide.” Said a jCAT(junior counselor AT training).

Meanwhile, a kid just laid in the water at the bottom of the slide with her rock perched near her face. It was collecting water. At my suggestion, she found another and placed it near her first, test flow variations. The jCAT kept widening the creek with his feet. A three year old boy, buoyed by this excitement and all the talk of water kept shouting “MrJim” about 50 times. I usually wait for 100, but this little kid had a bad slip earlier so I turned to listen, “I put my foot back in the water!!!” (Big smile, yes los dos). I knew nature would call him back. Earlier he had made the first power of water observation about water pushing other water. (See story for a clip).

Meanwhile…something…or someone!!!…moved one of the girl’s rocks. It was an unnoticeable, almost casual, movement of his shoe. Sort of what the jCAT had done, but more nonchalant. And it created a stir in the water, a force, a power. And it moved the girl’s rock. The unmitigated gall! And I had noticed. But do I stop him? Or let him go? Of course I don’t. I let it play out. These are the kid’s adventures. And I’ve seen this girl all week. She loves a challenge. And she seems to enjoy what the kid is doing to her rocks. And it’s another connection with another kid. And besides. Maybe he’s the evil villain and she’s learning and may someday save us all.

But wait… I thought we were talking water. Nature can do that. Studied its precepts and learned its variables and it moved us all forward. But for now, we are timeless, ageless, and we are no experts. We’re just playing out in nature. And getting to know, in a way that only a smile can measure, another kid who likes to get into it. One big and bold. One casual and nonchalant. #thanksjamesriverparksystem