Tonight, I found myself (and Macy Blue) in the upper river bed. This was one of Mabel's favorite spots, especially in the years the creek didn't make it all the way down to our favorite playground. This was a lovely swimmie hole that hugged the base of the mountain before curving Southwest. This photo by the Rottrover was taken there shortly after Otto joined her pack:
I've written of this spot before... I especially loved the giant car sized boulder that was sometimes in the middle of the stream and often beside it, depending on the flow. I could hang out on it and Mabel would do her thing, check on me and explore some more. Since she passed, I find myself sitting there and it feels like she's just around the bend or having a swim. I know it's silly, but it's like she still there.
Mabel was my scenic lover... she never climbed a mountain that she didn't check out the view. On hikes, she would lie down and look around. It wasn't to rest...she was taking it all in. She would look at me as if to say, "Wow! Look where we are! Isn't it pretty?"
If anything, that dog taught to appreciate the beauty of the world! And being near her favorite swimmie hole, on a boulder I shared many a nap with her just allowed me to feel like my girl is still part of my life.
But...tonight, it was gone.
I haven't been there since our last good rain several weeks ago. I was shocked when my path there was strewn with dead limbs. The rising waters had knocked dead, water starved shrubs over and they had become entangled in living brush. I had to climb and clamor to stay on my path.
Then Macy dove in the river for a swim...just upstream from Mabel's favorite spot. I noticed the stream got murky and lots of rocks just beyond where Macy was swimming. And suddenly, the stream was jutting South. The path I usually walk was completely underwater. I turned and followed the stream.
The soft sandy banks and deep swimming hole were gone... you can't even tell where the stream was (blue arrow in the photo below) if you don't know what to look for! And that magical car size boulder? Gone.
I stood there in shock. It felt like I was losing Mabel again. I had to do a post mortem on the stream.
I realized the "little hill" ( Red arrow - about 40 feet tall) was not a smaller mountain as I had always assumed but just a cut out. The large gully that comes off the actual mountain had previously been turning the water to the west. But the water washed away a large chunk of the hill in the last storm, pushing straight through and throwing tons of boulders, sand and mountain debris to the left and right of the opening (hence the blockage where Macy was swimming).
Here's a close up of the hole blown in that hillside:
Our boulder was somewhere in the area where the red arrow below is pointing.
And just like that, our river is totally different.. and my girl's favorite spot, the place I feel so close to her, is gone.
I know she's not there and yet just a few weeks ago, I got the strangest feeling that she is OK.
My hiking buddy had a memorial at the creek. It was NOT one of those funerals that brings you closure. It was jacked up and just WRONG. The hikers were the only ones early. His girlfriend and pup were on time... and the rest of the family was late. We started spreading his ashes after 30 minutes of waiting for the younger daughters (grownass women) to show up...both were waiting on their boyfriends. (Gee, if he can't show up for your father's funeral on time...maybe you should pick better men??? Just sayin...) There was much infighting and just nastiness ... I've been to some doozy of funerals...Southern family dramas but...this took the cake.
Spreading his ashes was fraught with drama and all the fighting had me tense and nervous. I decided to take Macy and hike downstream for a nice long hike...it was a beautiful day and the fighting family was headed to their cars in the other direction. As we dropped into the valley where the river starts is slow descent over lots of boulders...making beautiful water music, my calm was returning. I just wanted to remember my friend as he was there in that spot. Happy!
About this time, I became aware of two women hiking with three dogs across the river. I was wary as Macy can get a bit skittish when outnumbered by lots of strange dogs. I couldn't tell you two of the dogs' names but the third...was a naughty girl they couldn't keep track of... MABEL!
MAY BULLLL!! MaBEL! MABEL MABEL MABEL.... they called her name a hundred times... no exaggeration... the whole time I was hiking they were across from me looking for Mabel. Only when I got to the swimming hole where we would stop and chat as the dogs swam did I get a break from the verbal barrage of Mabels!
And I had to laugh. How many times had I stood there screaming that very name at the top of my lungs? How many times had my friend said to me, "Don't worry, she's OK. She'll find us." ??
Here I was looking for some relief from my grief over losing my friend and I'm reminded of my beloved dog...a dog he loved so much. It felt like my friend was telling me he had found that Rainbow Bridge and my girl was there to greet him.
It felt like he was somehow letting me know... "Don't worry about your girl. She's with me!"
I haven't heard or seen those women since...
But today as I was lost in thought of how we, and the places we love, are here and gone in a heartbeat, I had to remind myself, it's the love that remains.