The Falls
by Linda Dewey

       I walk through the pasture, tall grass brushing against my legs, to the creek. The water splashes and gurgles as it rushes over the rocks in its shallow bed. As I cross, the wind blows sending a chill through me. A little farther down, willows shading a slate bottomed pool where minnows play, bend and sway in the breeze. I can hear the falls getting louder now, and as I pass by the old dam covered with wildflowers, I catch my first glimpse of the falls, framed by stately oaks and maples. The heifers that had been grazing peacefully see me and come closer to investigate the intruder. I walk down the bank to the stone pile and sit in the moss-covered hollow of a red oak almost three feet in diameter, shielded from the wind.  My grass-covered ledge is almost directly in front of the falls. The water rushes over it's shale face bouncing off shelves in the rock. The sunshines through spots in the trees and is then covered by a heavy gray cloud.  It is quiet and serene here except for the sound of the falls, the leaves rustling in the breeze and an occasional bird's song. Small vines cling to the rocky face of the falls and tree roots hang over its edge where the water has eroded the soil. Dead leaves cling to its sides and algae covers the smooth rocks at the base of the falls. As I move from my hollow to a spot directly in front of the falls, I throw a rock, and it splashes in the shallow pool far below. The cold wind cuts through me like a knife now that I have left the shelter of the tree. There are dead branches overhead and twigs snap under my boots as I walk along the bank. Colorful fungus grows on the decaying wood. I look down the gully, shaded by maples and hemlocks and watch dead leaves blown down by the wind roll down the bank and float down the slow-moving creek. The tree trunks are bent straining to grow upward and yet remain anchored to the bank. The reflection of the sunlight off the water dances on them.  As I walk towards the rock pile, crickets jump and chirp in the grass and a spider crawls across a rock in front of me. The pile was made by my ancestors, and I find rocks that had been split by them to build the dam.  Gray lichen forms a curious pattern on a rock and on the trunk of a soft maple whose leaves are mottled with red. I follow a beaten path made by the heifers along the bank. A butterfly weaves in and out of the goldenrod. The sound of a passing car brings me back to the present, and I realize I must say good by to the eternal falls, eternally deepening and widening its gorge.

2006 by Linda Dewey

The Falls

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