Creek: (n) a stream smaller than a river.
I’m sorry. That’s hardly a definition.
“Smaller than a river?” Isn’t that a rather broad category?
That’s not my recollection of a creek.
My memory of a creek is that if you waded in, it wouldn’t go much above your knees. The water, that is.
And there were so many rocks, fallen trees and leaves nearby that the flow was pretty brisk, a little splashy, and you could often see all the way to the bottom.
I was always taught that if you couldn’t see to the bottom of the creek or if the water wasn’t moving, you should probably not drink it. (This information was not given to me by a Native American or some scout hunting buffalo. I think it was my older brother, and I can’t count how many times he was wrong.)
But we had a little piece of land outside town that we owned, and we called our “farm.” It was a rather pitiful situation. My dad wanted to get some agrarian roots into our lives, so he tried to raise chickens, strawberries, some corn—and he built himself a little cabin in the nearby patch of woods, so he could occasionally escape, to play the part of Jack London “calling to the wild.”
Right next to that cabin, though, was a creek.
It wasn’t much of anything, but it was certainly shallow enough that every once in a while, when a fish got trapped because it missed a turn in one of the nearby rivers or got distracted from the reservoir—well, you could see it as clearly as if it were staring you in the face.
We had such a fish which I tried to catch on several occasions.
It was extremely odd. I could see the fish moving, imagine what it was thinking, but I still ended up frustrated as the fish stole my bait and wiggled away.
One day I came home from school and my older brother had an iron skillet on the stove and was frying up what ended up being a big fish.
I said, “Hey, Dan, where’d you get the fish?”
He laughed and replied, “You know that big ole’ fish that was in the creek? I caught it.”
I went to my room and cried.
I don’t exactly know the complete reason for my tears, but I imagine it was the mingling of getting bettered by my brother, not catching the fish myself, seeing it lay in the pan as an entrée—or maybe just knowing that my creek had lost its only friend.