One of my favorite summertime activities is grabbing a big rubber inner tube and taking it to the Delaware River near my home in Upper Bucks County, PA. When most folks in the region think of the Delaware, what comes to mind is the portion that flows through Philadelphia which is no one’s idea of a place for an afternoon of relaxing IN the water unless on a boat or perhaps by the water at Penns Landing. The water flows clean and clear many miles upriver and rocks worn smooth by centuries of activity can be easily viewed through its surface. Yesterday, my friend Ondreah and I drove up the winding roads to the home of her sister Liz and brother in-law Dave in Milford, NJ where a few blocks away, the river awaited us and two irridescently colored plump inner tubes were hanging out on their picnic table, eager to go for a swim. Slathered in sunscreen, toting the tubes and water bottles, we trundled down a rocky. muddy path and into the cool river. Liz took pictures of the intrepid travelers, about to go on a few hour adventure. The sight of the two of us, tubes tied together with rope lest one of us drift too far, clambering on board, after a few hysterically laughing attempts, was I Love Lucy-meets-America’s Funniest Home Videos material. I joked with Ondreah that we were quite the Lucy and Ethel duo (not sure which of us was which), but she had even tied her blond hair up in a bandana, reminiscent of the 50’s style in which Lucy had worn hers. Off we went!
The water was comfortably high, so that our butts didn’t bump the bottom too often; only twice in the 2-plus hour journey did we need to stand and unsnag ourselves, but even with all of the rain we have gotten in the past few weeks, the river wasn’t running too fast. We marveled at the show of nature, with many winged ones accompanying us; a few ducks paddling about, three turkey buzzards circling above us, (she joked that they were eyeing us for lunch), an eagle buzzing by and a plethora of herons; a few uttering raucus cries as they launched themselves from partially submerged tree branches. The leaves waved greeting as we leisurely drifted by, vivid hues of green that in a month or so, would be crimson and golden, heralding autumnal change. A portent of those days to come were a few that had already jumped ship and were floating on the surface of the water after spiraling downward. Shadow and light played on the tree trunks, as we mused about the idea of mirroring. Was the water mirroring the cerulean blue, cloud scattered sky or was the sky mirroring the aromatic cedar water? This conversation was juxtaposed with our pondering about the various relationships with the people in our lives. On this day, I was having a bit of a struggle with someone in my life in which we represent aspects of the other from which we would much prefer to dis-associate ourselves and yet we are reflecting surfaces. Can’t escape it any more than the water and sky can escape each other. I have been practicing learning how to embrace the shadow side of myself, refraining from only seeing the “la-la land sweetness and light” as he has been confronted with his own brilliantly shining light aspects, from which he sometimes hides.
As we neared the ending of our watery sojourn, muddy and eager to wash up, I found myself sighing with appreciation of the gift I had offered myself; time with a dear friend, immersed in nature, really doing nothing, allowing the river to carry me to my next destination.
http://youtu.be/anjT71N4PGM Take Me To The River by Talking Heads