It was half an hour before sunset, and I parked my car just off some state highway in southern NH, on the side of a dirt road leading down to a cornfield. It was hot, I’d been driving for three and a half hours and I was hell bent on a swim. I’d just driven over a bridge–some tributary of the Connecticut.
So I ducked the chain into the cornfield teeming with buzzing bugs lit golden by the late light like nebulous starfields. I pushed my way through the stalks, then through sycamore branches, climbed down a muddy twelve-foot bank to the shallow, pebbly river. The water smelled faintly of fish and sunbaked mud and barely came past my knees. The sycamores were full of mockingbirds. I peeled off my clothes and swam at a leisurely pace, upstream so the current kept me in place. Then I found a piece of beaver-chewed driftwood for a walking stick and took a barefoot stroll on a rocky sandbar.
Normally I’d frown on this sort of thing. Pieces of grimy video arcade accoutrements half-submerged in the middle of a river. This particular instance, however, arrested me completely. I stood there and stared at it for a while just to reassure myself that I’d actually seen it.
The driftwood stick is now planted in my garden holding up tomatoes.