Hao S.

Down By The Creek

At the age of eight, third grade at Fayetteville elementary had quickly come to an end. No one really complained about school. Returning home with an empty backpack and a lunch box, it was hard to enter the front door without a smile. But the thought of two months with boundless activities still tempted all of us. In the small village of Manlius, situated in up-state New York, life bustled in the small town center consisting of a small ice cream shoppe, cinema, town hall, and various other simple town accessories. But, I did not find myself aroused or interested with the busy - ness of the town. Instead, I found peace down by the creek steadily flowing behind the condominium complex where I lived. It was in this community where I also found my two best friends, David and Simon. We fueled each other’s imaginations and dug treasures out of the depths of the creek. Like any group of rowdy young boys, we could always count on each other. In the center of our little circle was David. His age made him significantly different from Simon and me. While David was going to enter seventh grade in the fall, Simon and I were still running away from girls because of their infectious cooties. We both looked up to him as an older brother who consoled us on the matter of females and various other aspects of life. As David’s minions, we followed him everywhere.

On face, the creek seemed just like any floating body of water found cutting through the forest in our backyard. But through the lenses of three mischievous boys, it was much more than that. With the riverbank covered with skipping stones and flowing waves filled with growing brown trout, the activities we found to occupy ourselves were unlimited. Because all three of us were sons of fishermen, we often found ourselves practicing our “one o’clock - ten o’clock” fly fishing cast to the trickling noise of flowing water. After each of us had entangled our lines onto the overhanging branches multiple times, frustration finally took over as we would give up all conventional styles of fly fishing and instead attach pieces of crayfish to the ends of our lines. With our rolled - up jeans, we would scavenge for crayfish all morning in order to have bait for the afternoon. We often endured savage attacks by these pincer - wielding brutes just to catch one fish per week. We usually didn’t mind, it wasn’t the prize we were in search for, it was the moments down by the creek where our lines could be left to drift with the current, and we could just lay back and relax. Then five to ten minutes later, we’d reel our line back in only to expect the bait to have fallen off. But once during these long hours of basking in the sun, David grew tired of casting our lines to the other side of the creek in order to get only a nibble. Our fathers had taught us that the fish would be found in deep quiet pockets of water and all of these marine sanctuaries were located on the opposite side. With our simple - minded approach, we decided to find a way to bring the fish to us by recreating their sanctuaries on our side of the creek. In order to do this, the idea of engineering a dam was brought up by David.

The dam would protrude the bank about one - third of the way across the creek in an attempt to retain more fish on our side by creating a nook of calm and deep water. And because the idea came from David’s mouth, Simon and I listened intently. The more each of us thought about it, the better the idea sounded. Without much dispute, we immediately configured the process of constructing the dam. As one of our largest and most futile projects, we began the week collecting various large stones and logs. The main structure of the dam was built to support a large log with rocks of various sizes. Therefore the log would hold back the water as the rocks behind it would keep the log in place against the flow. Working with diligence, we compiled a massive heap of viable construction material within one day’s work. We all agreed that this would remain a secret and we’d come back to the same location for the rest of the week to work on the dam. One by one, each rock was placed horizontally from the creek’s bank. Jutting from the bank, our project measured five feet long and two feet wide by the end of construction day #1. We were making progress rapidly and on day five, we were nearly finished. In a frenzy to finish it that day, all three of us forgot to return home for dinner. Our parents knew we’d be down by the creek and decided to come looking for us. That’s when things got bad. Not only were we in deep trouble for not coming home when it was already dark, but when each parent realized the ecological damages we had inflicted, we were completely toast.

That night we were told to remove each and every stone we had placed into the creek. Apparently, we were disrupting the ecosystem, and each of us got a lecture on it at home. We all knew that during the yelling in the background, each of us was already starting to plot out next week’s scheme. Whether it was hitting herds of geese with home-made sling - shots, or setting colonies of ants on fire with magnifying glasses, the idiotic and mischievous moments of my life were the most memorable.


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