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Something different, a trip back in time

— I took time to sit by the river yesterday. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I often take time to do it. It was my designated “day off,” after all. I felt I had already used up the time I had a right to waste, so I was wavering on what to do next.

The river called to me.

I fought it for a few minutes. I “should” get back home. I “should” balance my checkbook. I “should” throw in a load of laundry. I couldn’t decide what to do. Be responsible and work hard, or follow the call?

In an instant I remembered my childhood babysitter, holding out a dish of candies. “Do you want one?” she asked. I hesitated because I honestly didn’t know. They were something I’d never seen before: red and green crinkly cellophane, made to look like strawberries. “I don’t know,” I answered. “Then I guess you don’t really want one,” she snipped, and spun away with the dish.

So is that where I learned to be so Spartan with myself, so militant with my wishes? Yes or no, now or never, black or white.

Fortunately, something intervened in this downward spiral of thoughts. I think I actually stopped thinking and just started moving. I drove to the fish place, bought a sandwich, and went to the river.

It was the right thing to do.

I’ve been a river rat as long as I can remember, growing up on the Oswego River running through the heart of Fulton. I’d ditch my backpack after school, jump on my bike and fly away. I’d crest the hill by St. Mary’s, put my feet up while the pedals whined me down the hill, look both ways (maybe) before darting across Rt. 481, and coast into the paradise that was the riverbank. Giant oak trees lined the avenue; ancient businesses with Gothic facades winked at the boat traffic on the canal. The view from inside the library was great on rainy days; but with any hint of sun, I rode to the overlook and parked.

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