The summer before I turned seven, we moved to Big City for my mother’s last two years of med school.  (She’d been commuting to our hometown for the first two years, and that was getting really old.)  Our new house had a backyard that sloped down at about a 45 degree angle, as well as a long-buried swimming pool and a little garden shed that became my no-boys-allowed fort.  I had a hand-lettered sign, and everything.  And no boys ever even showed up to try to break in, so clearly this was highly effective.

More importantly to this story, the new house also had a little drainage ditch running down the back.  My little friends and I called this the “creek” of course, little optimists that we were.  We spent hours down there playing in the water, floating boats and sticks, climbing over the back fences to each other’s houses, and generally wreaking minor havoc.

On my mother’s days off, she’d walk with me along the creek as it ran behind all the houses on our long winding block, and then under the footbridge to the real creek, which was a good 30 feet wide and had more than a trickle of water in it.  I’d pretend to be Natty Bumppo, and wade and hop from rock to rock trying to catch tadpoles.  We didn’t have a lot of uninterrupted mother-daughter time in those years (what with medical school and all) but those afternoons were golden.

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