Crooked Creek Rolling in the New

With the dog I walk the trail beside the little river and stop to appreciate the old ghost tree, a sycamore, white, tall, winter bare. Three holes in its trunk have housed feathered families in the past. Behind it, across the creek, sits a big yellow earth mover. Progress?

I sit on the wooden decking beside this little river that runs the edge of the city park. It flooded here three days ago. The bridge about four hundred yards east of me on Port Royal Road sustained structural damage. The speed limit has been reduced to 20 mph, and driving over it was somewhat unsettling. The little river called Crooked Creek is almost blocked with packed debris of fallen trees and branches, all pushed into a heap. In kayaking, we call that a “strainer.” The obstruction affects the river flow. The water is quiet under the strainer, but rushes around it, gurgling and churning dangerously.

Across Crooked Creek is new construction, a neighborhood in the making. Also over there is an old barn, dilapidated, many of its weathered planks missing.

The sun shines down on me and the dog. I feel the warmth. I also feel the cool breeze brushing against my face. And I listen to the running of Crooked Creek.

The creek is full of the old. Old trees that have probably been there a hundred years. Old leaves on the ground from the last seasons. Old dirt banks holding the water since the beginning of time. What secrets this river could tell! South of the river, a new city park–walking trails, football and soccer fields, picnic areas, a splash pad, tennis courts, basketball goals. North of the river, muddy fields and new black asphalt streets with frames of new houses erected. And the old barn, which I’m sure they will tear down soon.

The old rolling along between the new. It has rolled through the farmland and pastureland for years, decades, generations. Now the new is inching in toward it, taking over the landscape.

I know how it feels.