The East and West Forks of Langford Creek converge at a place called Cacaway to form Langford Bay. Two dear friends live out on the point where the two streams meet and just off that point, Cacaway Island floats serenely, a solid sentinel in a watery world. But there’s a little local secret: when the tide is very low, there’s a thin filament of land that connects the island to the mainland, an invisible bridge usually lying just below the surface of the water. Fishermen know it’s there; so do deer. My friends recently watched a herd of fifteen retreat to the island when they were startled. They know humans won’t follow.
Maybe because I grew up in Pittsburgh, the city where the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers form the Ohio River, the mingling of waters is in my blood. There’s something mystical about that confluence: separate streams coming together to form a greater whole, a more perfect union of waters. How I wish people could converge and mingle as easily as water; if they did, this world would be a far gentler place!
But back to Cacaway, that pinpoint of dry land at the confluence of two forks of the same lovely creek. At any hour of the day, the play of light on water paints a lovely picture. So do the moon and stars that illuminate the night sky. At this time of year, the soundtrack to this peaceful scene is the chatter of geese rafting together in the dark. A fish jumps and ripples spread out across the water like the petals of a flower. In that moment, you can almost imagine the world that was here in the dreamtime before people arrived, a garden of innocence and plenty.
Our friends who live out on the point know how blessed they are. We recently visited them to share a simple meal in front of a cozy fire; two golden retrievers kept us company. In summer, we might well have planted ourselves outside on comfortable Adirondack chairs to watch the sun sink below the tree line across the West Fork, but at this time of year, once the sun sets, we retreated to the warmth of the living room and tossed another log on the fire. The snap and pop of the hearth punctuated our conversation late into the night.
At times like these, I remind myself to stop and count my own blessings. Children and grandchildren. Family and friends. All the beauty that surrounds us in this place. It is all-too-easy to want more, to overlook or forget all that we have; to be distracted by all the noise instead of focusing on the silence; to fret about what we think we need instead of enjoying what we already possess.
Out there in the gathering darkness, at the confluence of these two quiet branches of Langford Creek, and in the shifting shadows out on Cacaway Island, the world holds its breath, patiently awaiting the dawn of a new day. The tide rises and falls. The geese settle in and finally fall silent. A fish jumps and its splash sends ripples across the universe. The moon makes its slow passage through the arc of the inky sky. And the water continues to flow from a source unseen to an end unknown.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine.
Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.net.