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A Life With Them All

Reflections on a stream by a historic mill. What makes a stream both indelible and alluring?

So many times, the allegory of humans and water has been immortalized in every single form of art. Almost since the beginning of life itself. I’m not one to utilize an overused cliché, so stick with me. I intend to speak in simple layman’s terms.

There is a stream not too distant from me, it’s beautiful in fact. It happens to be the main picture above. Adjacent to the stream is a historic mill, and the property sits at the fork of a narrow two-lane road. It wasn’t until recently that you could even see the mill from the road. The land had been overgrown to such an extent and for so long, if you didn’t know to look there—you would have easily missed it.

The land changed hands recently, and the new owner began brush clearing. The mill emerged from its hiding place and a wrought iron fence was installed. The natural slope of the surrounding land adds to its character and charm. You could simply imagine this place in its heyday.

But I did not begin writing this piece to focus on the land or the mill, distractingly attractive as they may be. The stream is the main character. Look at the picture above again. Amidst the stream’s expanse there are boulders, rocks and pebbles, tree limbs, and sandy banks.

We as a people are all of those things in the life sustaining force of the stream, which we shall call simply--life.

Boulders stand their ground, they put up a fight. Over and over a constant rush pushes and prods them, and yet still they stand. They have the power to change the route of the stream, nay life itself. On one side is the grateful geography who appreciates the added attention and nutrients. On the other is one who must adapt or wither. And in the middle is the boulder. It bears the brunt of standing guard, and while it looks immobile, impenetrable even, it too gets worn down eventually by force and time. Forever changed by these boulders life is, but the boulders are left many times alone, in the rear view. We take their struggle for granted. Boulders change life, but at the sacrifice of their own.

Rocks and pebbles, perhaps off shoots of boulders or perhaps thrown into the mix unexpectantly, they have a place in the stream too. Little in stature, they may somersault downriver if the current is too intense. Or they may plant their weight on the floor of the creek bed and stand firm yet tiny in their resolve and conviction. Rocks and pebbles stand for something, sometimes. It is difficult to differentiate which one stays true and which one takes but a fleeting fancy.

Tree limbs removed from their base do not last long. They have lost their connection and in so doing the water rots or breaks them. Scavengers take advantage of their offerings, seeing them as disposable or as a commodity to be exploited. But don’t count the tree limb out. If the limb is strong enough it can stand as the boulder, allowing others to see its fortitude. And if the limb is weaker, perhaps even a mass of twigs--those twigs can combine their forces and dam a river. Even if one’s time is not long for this earth, purpose can still be found.

Sandy banks, those lackadaisical entry points. Life seems so easy and carefree for them. No rushing current, nothing to block their way. Everyone wants to be a sandy bank, untroubled and calm. But how much attention does the bank get? Only struggle and insight provide the depth that draws others near. People may be drawn to the sandy bank, but they don’t stay there.

The stream needs them all. What beauty is there in a stream without boulders, rocks and pebbles, tree limbs, and sandy banks?

Give me a stream, a life with them all, and I’ll learn to sort and appreciate them amidst the twists and turns.

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Charlotte A. Cason
Charlotte A. Cason
Aug 25, 2022

You are very in tune with nature. My brother and I and neighborhood kids played along a small stream 3 blocks from my house, we were pioneers going west and fighting Indians, or Knights, or cowboys. The stream gave us such vivid imaginations, and we got a lot of exercise fording the stream back and forth as we played out different dreams. Thanks for reminding me of those wonderful childhood times.

Holly Bills
Holly Bills
Aug 26, 2022
Replying to

Nature is one of my biggest inspirations. ❤️

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