Above The Riffle
It was early June and the school year had just ended. The quiet calm of the hidden creek was broken by the sound of a boy yelling “Wha Who!” at the top of his lungs as he ran down the steep dirt path that led to the creek. Without any hesitation he ran down the sandy bank and dove headlong into the creek. For a moment, the quiet returned and the only sounds were from the water flowing into the small pool at the end of the long riffle. Where the boy had entered the water, a long stream of bubbles tracked his underwater path across the creek’s surface. The young boy burst through the water’s surface and again gave out another “Wha Who!” The only one to hear his joy was his dog that now followed him down the beach and into the water. He was happy that summer had arrived and they could once again play in the waters of the creek. This place was his private world and no human besides him ever trespassed.
The boy’s name is Sam, the only son of Bill and Maggie Hanson. Their small farm sat at the edge of the woods near the creek. They worked the land to raise food for the family and sometimes sold the extra to stores in town just three miles away. Sam helped out on the farm and sometimes worked for a neighbor down the road to make some money to help the family. They were a happy family, but were very poor by most standards. Still Sam enjoyed living life on the farm and playing in his beloved creek.
His mother once told him he would one day turn into a fish if he did not stop spending so much time in the creek. Sam knew she was only having fun with him. Perhaps a wrinkly frog, but never a fish.
As Sam came out of the water he picked up a small flat stone and set it skipping across the water surface. “See that boy?” he said to his dog. “I bet that was 16 times it skipped to celebrate my birthday today.” Sam rubbed the dog’s head and then asked, “Do you want to go to the head of the riffle?” He waited for a response from the dog and finally gave one for him, “You do? Okay, let’s go.” Sam never gave his old yellow dog an official name. He just called his constant friend by what he was, Dog.
The boy and Dog ran splashing and laughing through the small pools of water that made up the riffle. Sam would throw a stick for Dog to retrieve from the slow moving waters; a game they often played in the shallows. After traveling a few minutes, the two playmates reached the deep end of the riffle. Sam threw the stick into the water as both he and his dog jumped in to race to the floating prize. This time his dog won the race and the two celebrated as they returned to shore and lay in the warm sand beside the big rock. Sam laughed and talked to his dog as if he would answer. “I think you jumped in before I said go. That time did not count.” Sam told Dog.
From across the creek a voice said, “No, you jumped in before he did.” Sam was startled to hear another voice, and it was a girl’s voice. He looked quickly around to see who had invaded their private swimming place.
Across the water on the far side of the creek stood a girl with long brown hair wearing a yellow sundress. “Well,” she said, “Do you have a name?” Sam stuttered for a moment before saying, “Who are you?”
The young girl stood up and reached down to the bottom of her yellow dress. With a quick pull she lifted it over her head. Sam closed his eyes and covered them with his hand. A moment later he heard a splash and someone swimming toward him.
Suddenly water was splashed on him and a voice said, “Open your eyes, silly.” Dog whined for a moment and Sam carefully opened his eyes. Standing knee deep in water just in front of the rock was a girl about his age in a dark bathing suit. “Well, my name is Rachel, what is yours?”
Sam was still stunned by the mere presence of the intruder, and now she wanted to know his name. “Sam, and this is my swimming place, how did you find it?” “Find it? Why my dad bought this farm to raise his prize cows on. And he made sure it had a creek running through to pump water to the barn.”
Now, Sam had heard a rich man from up north had bought a farm in the area but he did not realize it lay just on the other side of his swimming hole. Pump water to the barn for his cattle? Surely he must be rich to do such a thing. Cows had legs; they could walk to the creek for a drink. In one short moment his swimming hole was invaded. Sam and his family carried water from a nearby spring to the house for drinking and cooking.
Rachel picked up the stick and asked Sam, “What’s your dog’s name?” Sam stood up and said, “He don’t need a name; he knows who he is and who I am. That is enough.” With that, Rachel threw the stick far out into the creek and said, “Go get it Tobey.” With a quick bound the dog jumped in and swam out to the stick. Rachel, with an ornerier look, said to Sam, “Well I guess his name is Tobey.” Sam was furious as he dove deep in the cool dark water of the swimming hole.
As he came to the surface 10 yards from his rock, he looked back and Rachel was sitting there and his dog was lying down beside her. His prefect world had quickly changed, but as he slowly moved his arms to tread water he began to notice Rachel was pretty.