Bear Creek

Bear Creek, my amazon. Tall Live oaks and old cypress trees heavy with spanish moss hanging together rover the sandy banks, shielding the shallow stream from the weight of the afternoon heat.

So many afternoons walking, crawling, swimming, wadding and plotting the creek from its narrow innocuous head of water bubbling up beneath the sand in the Brahaman's field, past the deeper rapids east of Winter Springs boulevard where it gathers speed on its winding walk through Tuskawilla into Lake Jesup.

Time could only measured by the height of the sun in the sky as it streamed between branches and leaves, with civilized suburbia a thousand miles away on the other side of a couple-dozen trees and a wall of saw palmettos. Bear Creek, my second home and playground; except for the hole.

The hole lay upstream from the house, on the left bank. Downstream of the hole, fine white and golden sand with soft waves etched into its surface gave way to a tannic abyss— seeming miles of water with challenger depths the sunlight could never hope to reach. Sunfish and Brim teamed in the hole, and could be raised with a piece of ham or a plump earthworm; but things far more sinister seemed to lurk beneath the surface.

Each step towards the hole was fearful. One slip and you might never come up: trapped in a maze of twisted roots, jagged metal and barbed wire, giant-leeches, skeletons hungry for company.

It took the group of cul-de-sac kids to conquer it, fueled by peer-pressure; the only force stronger than childhood fear.

I approached.

I dipped a toe beneath the surface, then a foot, then pulled back.

I held my breath.

I reached out with a tentative foot, stepped forward, closed my eyes, and good-bye.

I sank.

Up to my waist.