Crane Creek was the rambling stream that ran behind our house in the heat of summer. It was the swelling water that rushed mightily in the spring and flooded the basements in Saratoga, except ours – thanks to the sump pump the board of trustees included in the building plan of the new parsonage (think Protestant rectory).
Crane Creek was the frozen play land where I first learned to keep my ankles firm when they wanted to twist and buckle in my new white ice skates. The creek where some guy veered off the road one night and drove down the embankment and right out on the ice. And we all marveled that he didn’t fall through and drown.
That creek ran beside the park where I slid down a splintery slide and tore an eight-inch hole in my favorite jeans – back when I was still young enough to climb the slide but old enough to care about favorite jeans.
It’s where my sister, brother and I cut grass and made pocket change so that we could pay for pool admission at the local KOA.
Crane Creek. It’s where my brother caught blue gill too small to eat, and I became an Iowa girl always and forever.
It’s where I took a walk with my prom date one night and realized how much I didn’t want to move to my father’s new pastorate. I wanted to stay there, by the creek, and near friends, and marry and have babies who grew up to skate and slide and fish right there.
It forms us. Never leaves us. Like the Church, where our fingers dip, where we were washed and freed from every stain. Where we return every Lent and remember. Reclaim. Renew.
It stays with us, not only as long as the brain cells function and synapses work without fail.
It’s there always. If we will it.
A water that captures us and captivates us. And never lets go.
Water strong enough to hold us, even when we crash into it like the driver on a cold January night. Yes, even then it saves us. Protects us. Bears us up.
It’s always there, even if we travel miles, take up residence in another state, stop skating, stop remembering.
It doesn’t forget, but waits for us to remember.
And we make the long drive home again and claim our heritage.