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Watery Memories



Up in the northern reaches of Illinois Beach State Park, near the Wisconsin border, is a network of wetland meadows.  When I found it some 15 years ago, it immediately became one of my favorite places on earth.  Just looking at it I can feel the cool water as my bare feet plunge into it and time drops away.  When I finished this painting, my son delighted me by commenting that he should be perched on a tussock sedge nearby.  Indeed, the two of us spent many happy afternoons splashing about, tripping over the tussocks, peering into the waters for little fishes, frogs, and other treasures.  More than one cell phone met its demise here as, laughing and covered with rich black mud, we’d emerge to return to civilization, much damper than we’d planned to get.  Part of me will always be there, I realize, and so going back will always feel like visiting with a part of myself.

This weekend my son is home visiting me from college.  His interests are wide-ranging, so we’ve enjoyed discussing the changes we see happening in the world, from politics to climate.  Yesterday we needed to pop into his old pediatrician’s office to get records his college requires.  As we stood at the desk a mom entered, carrying her baby.  It made me feel a little dizzy to stand in this place next to a tall young man who is my son, where once (yesterday, surely) I carried him.  I know the emotions that are swamping me are not new in the world, but they are new in my world and so I felt moved to share them.  Maybe when it gets warm again he will go back and play in the water with me…