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Pebbles In Water1

Simmons’ Creek

by Bill Beigel

Walking the beach at dawn is a habit. There are many places where I can find a crescent ring of tiny shells.

The shells are embedded and enmeshed in a tangled mass of sea grass and feathers and dark, coarse sand. They are nearly hidden. But when the sun is just right, the shells shine out to me. I have picked up many handfuls, but usually end up tossing them back into the ocean. I enjoy the small splash they cause, and the ripples that tickle the surface for a few seconds.

The dark sand is carried into the ocean from creeks which start at the palm-covered springs in the mountains. The creek I know the best (my grandfather called it Simmons’ creek) emerges from a sandstone cliff, at the end of a trail, a few hundred feet from the top of a ridge.

When it has been a wet year, the creek bursts forth with so much strength that it erodes the surrounding rock face. It stings when I put my face against the sparkling water, but God, it makes me smile. When I was last there, in the spring, I watched the water pour and pour into the pond, and the water was always clear. How do the rocks that sparkle at the bottom of the pond maintain their place in the sand, and their solidity, their very being, against the onrushing flow?

When it rains in the hills above Simmons’ creek, the water can evaporate and return to the sky, or it can percolate into the bedrock and join the aquifer. Or it can choose to be part of Simmons’ creek. There is more than one path it can take. Nothing is planned in advance.

It only rains in the spring. This spring, it rained in March and early April; after that, not a cloud and not a drop. Now it is late summer and Simmons’ creek is lower than I have ever seen it. That bothers me some. The change from blue and green water to dry rock bed does not meet with my idea of the fitness of things; it does not agree with the way I have been taught and what I have been told. Today, a child can step across the creek, carefully balancing on rocks that have not been dried by the sun for decades. I watched her, and she smiled most of the time, with just one quick look of fear when one of her feet nearly slipped. Then she was on the other side of Simmons’ creek.

This child will learn a different lesson than I have been taught about Simmons’ creek.

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