A bit further I floated by a young mom standing beside her young toddler. I interrupted them for a quick wave and then he was back at his task. Gleefully focused, clutching up rocks and tossing them in a stiff-armed motion that suggested he had just learned to throw things. Then delighting with a slight up-tip of his head and a braid smile, in seeing that each and every one he tossed made a Splash!—as if a bit of magic had just happened. Of course, it had. I’ve always been lucky this way.
As I reached the bridge near the end of my float, It wasn’t dusk yet but the half moon was conspicuously visible in the clear blue sky. I hung ten in it’s honor and then heard a gaggle of giggles and squeals up river. I could see a cluster of young bodies on the bridge, some racing across, some jumping in, then scrambling back up again for “just one more!” Six or seven youngsters, roughly aged ten to three were jumping from the left side, with a mom supportively watching from the bridge. As I carefully passed under the center to avoid a collision, I realized there were two dads in the water, encouraging them, and assisting to shore whoever needed help. I climbed out of my tube, and was standing in the water waiting for a couple of jumpers to clamber up the rocks to the bridge again. “This is the very last one!” I heard a dad announce, “we have to go!”
The littlest one, Claire, was mustering the courage to jump with the bigger kids. One helped her up onto the ledge, and the others all lined up on either side of her. “Come on Claire! You can do it!” She was all of 30” tall and standing on the low bridge wall put her 6-7 feet above the water—akin to me jumping from 20 feet up! I noticed her itty-bitty hands were shaking—from cold or fear or excitement or all the above? A few of the kids jumped in. One of the dad’s gently assured her she could do it—and that he was ready. A slightly taller girl took her hand, and all at once they leapt together. The remaining others all joined in a celebratory jump. Though Dad was ready to collect Claire, she appeared not to be troubled, smiling as she popped up from her courageous jump, then dog-paddling toward the boulders, where he lifted her up and onto the bank. We all smiled. I happily told her she was very very brave. I thanked the dad for bringing them out and into the river. “Yeah! Enough with the iPads and screens for a while!” he said. “They’ll remember this.” I enthusiastically agreed, and then told him I thought it was also great that he was playing in the water with them, and that they’d remember that even more.
Just then a great blue heron flew over the bridge and us all, heading up river. I don’t know when circumstances become synchronicity, and maybe the heron was just looking for a new spot to find dinner, but these wise and wary birds sure seem to be in my sights lately, or me in theirs. I smiled and thought, I may never know which or why with certainty, but I am certain I’m lucky either way.