Monday, February 23, 2009


I want to tell you a story. It involves six friends and an adventure of discovery.

For these six friends, their playground was the entire neighborhood, and they all lived on the same street. To children, the neighborhood was a large place of endless adventure.

There was a small creek that separated their neighborhood from the next one over. They would often follow the creek east, where it became rather brook-like in many places, and some parts were very deep. In the summer, they would swing from vines that hung from the trees. In the winter, they would pretend they had ice skates and slide along the frozen surface. Usually. Someone would always find the thin ice over a deep part. Always.

The creek flowed west. That's why they would travel east, to someday find where it began. One day, they found a nice little pond. There were huge rocks all around, and water poured from a great metal tunnel in the concrete wall. That tunnel led under the highway. Many spiders and other critters lived there, but it was a mark of bravery to walk through the tunnel, straddling the trickle of water, to the other side.

Not much of this side was ever explored. The shores of the little creek were soft and lined with moss here. Not rocks and sand and the great roots of great trees like the side they knew. They were afraid to go much further, in the unknown world on the other side of the highway.

So, one autumn, when they had broken all the vines from swinging, they decided to explore the creek West, were it flowed. It carved a long and twisted path through the trees. They never went very far in this direction. Mostly because they knew there was no highway to tell them how far from home they had gone.

This day, they kept going, picking their way through the trees and laughing as they went. They started to see things they had never seen along their little creek before: deeper waters and the unmistakable beaver-chewed stumps of trees. They turned a bend in the creek and found something amazing. It was a grand lake, blocked at one end by an impressive dam, with lodges interrupting the still surface. A Great Blue Heron waded in the shallows, and a tall hill, which later became perfect for sledding, created the southern border.

This place was a wonder. It was not far from their homes, but they had lived and explored for years without ever knowing its existence. They dubbed the lake Jabsse, using their initials. They brought their parents to share in their discovery, to stare at the wondrous beauty of a heron taking flight. To be sad at the break in the dam, and rejoice when the beavers started building a new one.

Jabsse Lake was the best of playgrounds. Nature happened around them, and they lived and played among it, never tiring of the ever-changing lake, and the calming presence of the creatures that lived there.

Perhaps it began then.

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