For several to more years I’ve loved camping at campsite 42, Mollidgewock State Park, on the Androscoggin River. This particular site is literally the end of the road at this campground; the most secluded site, with the river having turned only recently to rapids that gently lull me to restfulness and peace.
I go there, once a year, to listen to the river and look at the little waves and imagine that surely, in a past life, I was a bear on the bank just across from where we camp and a little to the right. I look every time I’m there for my descendants and I’m sure they see me but I have yet to see them. I know I pulled fish out of that river with my bare hands and fed my family that way. When I was a bear.
I’ve visited there twice now in the time since my mom died, since my kid moved away to college, since I rather unintentionally changed careers. I’m soothed, always, by the rapids and the technology break. And this time I realized more: The river changes constantly, of course, in how it ebbs and flows. The sun is in a different place in the sky each day and in July to my right as it sets but in September more straight ahead. As it arcs it casts a constantly and infinitesimally changing light on the river and her rapids. The moon, similarly and more dramatically delivers an ever-changing glow and, also, predictably, waxes and wanes. The clouds come in to play, obscuring then revealing the light. A heron shows up one morning then moves on. Smaller birds draw my eye. Anglers do something pretty with their lines as part of the show but I’ve only seen them once or twice. There are these funny, prehistoric bugs I see on the rocks when I get up close to take my river bath and they jump all about.
Change breaks my heart. That’s a simple confession. But on the Androscoggin, just across the river from where I used to be a bear, I watch time and light and water do their constant dance and sing to me. And the world keeps spinning.