Sneak out of work early, but not too early. Even though you just got home from vacation. Even though its the middle of the week.
Drive out to where the river meets the bay, where boundaries between fresh and salt water are not so hard and fast.
Put on a bathing suit and wade into the dark murky water, full of silt and lettuce-edged seaweed, holding the hand of the one boy who always makes your heart sing. Whisper that there are no water snakes here.
Wade out waist deep and crouch a little so the warm brackish water comes up chest high. Float around a bit and chat. With the boy, with his friend, with the man who has brought you here.
Dig with your toes in the velvety silt. Dig as you walk and float. Feel with your feet as you move along the bottom until you find it, a clam…then two, three, many more.
Keeping your toes on the clam, hold your breath and dive into the silty water. You won’t be able to see the treasure on the bottom. But maybe you can grab it. Deposit it in the blue bucket.
Later, after a picnic dinner, when the boys have gone to throw the clams back into the Bay, when the women have gone in to clean up after dinnner I was all alone in the moonlight. I stripped off the suit I wear, and dove back under water. There I found joy and peace and quiet in swimming alone, in feeling the water carry me like a little child. This is how I squeeze the last juice out of the summer days.
The summer is waning. Even though this is the 40th time I have experienced it, I am shocked now, surprised how quickly the days grow dark now. This time last year, I sat in a similar space, resisting the coming autumn, reluctant to allow summer to pass. “Please, stay another day,” I begged August, but September came and with it blessings, lessons, a winter of quiet and growth and peace, an unfolding and a relearning and a return of the spring. It comes and it goes. With luck I will return to summer’s shores again but only after having seen a new world. Each summer is entirely new.
And this one is not yet gone, though the slipping away is palpable.
I wander out in the waves of a new year, hold the hands of those who make my heart sing. I cannot see the bottom, cannot see if there are prizes, or monsters or anything else here. I do not know what we will find, or what will happen when we take the next step. There may in fact be water snakes here. We don’t know. But I feel the solid earth and I know if I walk and dig we will find treasure. This keeps me walking even when the birds will leave. This keeps me walking even when the flowers die back. This keeps me walking.