My wife and I have been wanting to take our dog swimming because she’s a Labrador and has only really been swimming once.
We drove around looking for a spot along a local river. The river tracks through 111 miles of farm land and small towns, eventually running into the Ohio River. There are ‘scenic’ parks, recreational areas, covered bridges, and winding roads that lead to the occasional entry point into the river. There are canoe rental vans and buses that also traverse the road to drop off and pick up groups that float from one point to the other.
We came to a spot a little off the beaten path. We parked the car and walked across a span of grass to get there. I could hardly see it but my wife did. Just a tiny opening in the trees at the rim of the field.
We stepped down from a cement platform onto a dirt enclosure overrun by tree roots and rocks. There was no real place for our dog to get in. She sniffed around, curious, at the lapsing puddles underneath the brush and the mud. To coax her out I climbed out on a fallen tree that lay across the river. It was covered with moss and damned up the river’s flow so that the water on both immediate sides was stagnant. I walked out there, balancing, and called her after me while my wife stood on the shore, not unamused. The sun came through the thin tent of trees above our heads, needling through the individual leaves, so that only a film of light came through. Eventually she did jump over the craggy tree roots and swam out to me.
The spot proved to be too limiting in the end, too small so that neither my wife nor I could really get in the water with our dog. We left to look for other spots. But for other reasons that tiny opening to the river sticks in my mind. It looks like one small slice of earth where it’s still 1853. I don’t know why. It’s just a little piece of the river. But it’s picturesque. It’s next to an old bridge. There’s twinkling sun on the water. Besides the water bottles and litter gathered up on the one side of the fallen tree, Huckleberry Finn could’ve taken an afternoon dip there just yesterday. Not in some irretrievable past. Just yesterday.