Everyone would gather around the town reservoir on the Fourth of July to watch the fireworks. I can remember my Dad grumbling about all the traffic which makes me laugh now that I know what traffic is. Some time after I got married and moved away something went wrong during one of the shows, and the fireworks started going off all at once uncontrollably which prompted people to jump in the lake to keep from getting goosed by a roman candle. For a few years after that they didn't have any fireworks, and now they shoot them off at the High School football field. (I know.)
The reservoir was eventually drained, and I have no idea where the town gets its water now. I've heard that a couple of reasons for emptying the lake were: (1) mosquito infestation and fears of West Nile virus and (2) a problem with flooding the trailer park across the street.
When I was young, and those of you who know me will not be surprised by this, I was a very serious and thoughtful child. While other kids were playing games I would be locked inside my room calculating how old I would be in the year 2000. Later on, while other girls were dating boys I was writing poetry about relationships I didn't have. Often I would walk to the reservoir and wander to a secluded spillway, hidden by brush, on the east side of the lake. Climbing upon it I could look out over the water as I wrote poems, read or simply pondered about the very heavy events of my young life. (I know that, too.)
I went back there last month for the first time in over 30 years. I crossed the same bridge I had always crossed and walked over to the place where the spillway used to be.
There I stood and watched the red winged blackbirds, listened to the sounds of the evening as the sun set, and as I closed my eyes I swear I felt a 35 year old breeze blow across my face carrying past emotions of triumph, loss, happiness, sadness, anger, love, shame, and pride.
(Disclaimer: There used to be a lake here.)
Is it possible for a child to have a spiritual place? If so, I think this was mine. And probably always will be.