Sunday, September 27, 2015

Stepping off

Thinkin' about it, dude?
In my youth, in the 70s and 80s, we had a swimming hole.

The Topsy Recreation site is a plot of volcanic rock and Ponderosa pine along the Klamath River, about 10 river miles west of Keno, Oregon. In the summer, teenagers would drive along curvy, 2-lane highways from Klamath Falls to Topsy, to drink beer and smoke dope and go swimming.

There is a particular spot just off Topsy Grade Road where we went. It is a flat spot at the top of lichen-clad lava rock columns, 30 feet above the river. That is where we would go.

The sun blazed in those days, almost every day. (Or that is how it seems now, 30 years later.) In the heat, the ripples on the water tantalized and invited. When you'd cooked long enough, there was a point on the rocks where you could stand and, if you worked up the nerve, you could take the plunge.

To do so, you had to steel your nerves. The river runs slow at the point (it is just above the dam). You can't see far into the murky water. And the jump itself, required commitment and follow-through. Once forward momentum had started, you had to keep going. You had to push off hard to clear the rocks below.

Lunge, plant, launch.

It was an act of faith. Thirty feet is a long way down. 

When you started the jump, when the thing in your brain tripped and started moving your body forward, there was a magical feeling that came over you. Even before your launching foot had lost contact with the scaly rock, there was a heart-stopping "no turning back now" moment. Determination and fear, exhilaration and resignation all at once.

For good or ill, the act was underway.

Today --now --as Maty and I spend our last weekend at home, that same sensation stirs itself from my memory. Forward momentum has commenced. A journey is upon me.

From Manhattan to Lisbon, thence across Spain and France. A Eurail pass and a vague itinerary. Five weeks. I'm looking for a muse. A once faithful friend who has become a stranger.

The act is underway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember that Dade! (Paul)