Summer Days When We Swam
any child who has lived in the country has had a favorite swimmin
hole. They are a necessity, a respite from a hard days playing
in the humidity of a southern summer. I was no different. Swimming
was my favorite thing to do, and I jumped at any chance to go
paddling or wading around in a clear creek, lake, or ocean.
the south though, you have to be careful where you swim. You cant
just jump in anywhere you want. Southern waters abound with snakes,
especially the water moccasin. My grandmother, we called her Nanny,
used to take my sister and me fishing at the river about a mile
behind the farm. Its murky, slow-moving water was home to many
of the reptilian creatures, with their wide-open mouths white
as snow, their fangs deadly. We learned to stay out of their way
and to check the trees close to the riverbank since they liked
to hang from the branches. Needless to say, we didnt swim
in the river.
and then, Mamma would take us to her best friend's house in Remlap,
Alabama. "Aunt" Janet knew how to entertain kids. She,
her husband, and their two boys lived out in what we called "the
boonies" on a small lake. Mountains rolled in the distance,
and everywhere you looked were southern pine after southern pine
with the occasional dogwood tree thrown in for good measure. You
can imagine the fun kids can have in that kind of setting: woods
to explore and two really good swimming holes.
first and most obvious of these was the lake in front of their
house. A wooden dock jutted out from the muddy bank and went about
fifteen feet out on the water. The patter of our naked feet would
be heard running down the dock and then disappearing as our bodies
went flying into the air, like Superman, and then landing in the
cool, dark water with a cannon-ball splash. Giant tractor inner
tubes floating on the water served as rest platforms when we were
tired and trampolines when we wanted to dive back in. The lake
was our second favorite way to cool off. Our favorite spot was
a half mile or so from their house, down a path into a small ravine,
to an area on a creek called the Blue Hole.
creek was somewhat shallow and crystal clear, but the Hole itself
was a little deeper with a large, moss-covered boulder that you
could jump off of into the water. Generations before had enjoyed
the waters there, as evidenced by the old, frayed rope swing hanging
from an ancient oak tree on the other bank. Somehow it had been
forgotten through the years until we found it one day.
was also an old rotted footbridge across the creek. You could
only cross it carefully on one beam since part of the bridge had
fallen into the water long ago. Mesmerizing green water grasses
swayed slowly in the current. Now and then, we would even see
the occasional bream swimming up the current when we would slow
down long enough to look.
four kids were constant visitors to that wonderful place. We would
spend hours there, swimming and then climbing the bluffs on either
side of the ravine, little caves that were carved by the creek
eons ago, and pretending we were in the Land of the Lost. As a
kid, it was easy to imagine dinosaurs roaming around down there.
You couldn't see the sky for all the green trees, and so it became
our own little world.
miss those days, lying in the relaxing heat of the sun after playing
in the chilly waters of the creek. I miss building forts in the
woods with my sister and the boys, playing hide and seek in the
bluffs. And I miss who I was then--an explorer, constantly finding
new things to conquer, new places to see, and something new around
every corner. Those were the days that made me who I am today
and they will live inside me always.
Sieben grew up in Alabama, but is currently living in Illinois.
She has a BA in TV and Film with a minor in Creative Writing from
the University of Alabama. She is a member of various Internet
writing forums and has recently started her own blog, Southern
Gal Goes North.