The great water doctor moves in mysterious ways, sometimes like a whisper on the wind, rattling the windowpanes of the soul.
Perfectly round moisture droplets roll down the roof of the place we call home. The watering of the jonquils finished, the grass turned green from sleep, the fertile bottom pasture becomes a wetland of summer promise.
An unmistakable voice is heard:
“Go check to see where Plum Lick Creek begins.”
“Doesn’t it begin in a spring up the holler where Plum Lick Road makes its first turn to the north? You know, back up there where deer cross in pairs, sometimes in fours or more? Down aways from the rocks where the old tollhouse used to stand, sentineled for passage of horse-drawn wagons on the way to market?”
“Don’t be too sure. Do you happen to remember the dead-end road leading from the village where you spent your growing years?”
“Well, drive out there, go 3.1 miles to the edge where the paved road stops, get out, walk to the boundary, and look.”
It didn’t seem possible that such a little road had so many old trees, gatherings of water for sunfish and tadpoles, new homes, freshly painted church, small well-tended cemetery—views as valid as any on Earth.
“You see how much you’ve missed? Right at your very feet? Yours to touch and taste? Yours to see and feel. And listen!”
In the mind’s eye, it becomes clearer—Plum Lick Creek begins in myriad places—tens of thousands of harboring pools, each one a likely place to anchor hope.
Coming back up one of the last hills, a young man walks over to greet the visitor, and the conversation sets the tone for a well-saved late winter day.
All I want to know is exactly where Plum Lick Creek begins. All he wants me to know is that a doctor once told him, he, “the patient,” had eight months to live.
Now, here was the “sufferer” leaning on the edge of the car’s rolled down window, smile on his face, talking about his cancer, which, he was so pleased to say, had dried up. Well, you might say, as much as anybody had a right to expect. Maybe enough for another 10 years of watching winters turn to springs, building houses as a trade, minding a son growing as fast as a well-watered weed.
There was an excitement written all over the young man’s face as he told the story of hearing the doctor’s terminal words, then going home to pray, to read, to learn, to investigate. The “victim” wrote letters, reached out to other doctors on knife-edged, advancing technologies. Day by day, year by year, there were new moments filled with brighter expectation.
It was as if a wanderer had gone looking for a simple source of water and instead had found a fellow creek-walker, an inspired man who places a higher, dedicated value on his sojourning life and had decided to defy one doctor’s professional but flawed opinion.
Of course, there are no guarantees, no ironclad agreement that there’ll always be another season of sweet beds of mint alongside each creek bend. Yet it seems reasonable to look for ways to take better charge of one’s own flowing destiny.
For example, when the garbage man stops in the early morning darkness, it’s good to hear his voice when a helping hand is extended.
I don’t know his name. What counts is another safe passage of others following Plum Lick Creek.
“Thanks, Buddy,” he says.
And I say, “See you next time.”