There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

Tiger Swallowtail on Lilac

It was Mother's Day in the U.S. And so, like many others who are fortunate enough indeed to still have our sweet Mamas walking around on this Earth, my husband and I piled into his car and made the trip to wish a Happy Mother's Day to my mom, whose photo you may see in the extras, canoodling with Tiny Tiger.

We spent several hours sitting in the living room, chatting it up with my parents, age 91, my brother and his wife, and my little sister and her husband and daughter. We also face-timed with my brother's son and their brand new baby girl. Before we left, my husband and I swiped some of those pool old folks' Oreo cookies; oh no, we never leave empty-handed!

Everyone seemed to be in pretty good spirits and lots of stuff was blooming around the yard. The tulips were up, in a riot of colors. Bleeding heart with its delicate pink lockets livened up the area by the garage. The very first lady's slipper orchids were starting their show along the spring drain, and lilacs were in bloom.

Thanks to my husband hollering for me to COME SEE THIS BIG BUTTERFLY, I got to see my first tiger swallowtail of the year! (I wish I could bottle that fragrance and share it here; is there anything that smells sweeter than lilacs in May?)

The road to go home - route 322 - runs along the river. We stopped at the Juniata River along the Narrows below Lewistown to check out the flooding, and it was interesting and stunning and scary and awesome. Oh, the power of water!

If there is any river I would consider to be my family river, it is the blue Juniata, which was looking not so blue on this day, but big and muddy. The Juniata River flows into the mighty Susquehanna just north of Harrisburg, right by the Clarks Ferry bridge.

You may see a photo of me, along the river, standing just outside the flood waters, in the extras. It wasn't as high as Hurricane Agnes (1972), which is the most water I have personally ever seen, but it was still impressive.

And we talked a little bit with my family about the floods. For any of you who live anywhere near rivers are familiar with floods. (My husband was born in Johnstown, and - hey, they pretty much have the corner on amazing flood stories there!) If you have any family members who must cross rivers to get to their jobs, the rivers become even more important.

We reminisced about Hurricane Agnes, in 1972, and about how my dad took us driving around, surveying the devastation in Juniata County and the surrounding areas, and ending up at Amity Hall. My dad shared a recollection of his own, of the great flood of 1936, when he saw a chicken coop floating down the river with a rooster on top, crowing his brains out!

I think my dad said the rivers were supposed to crest on this evening. And waiting for the crest is part of what you do, hoping the banks will hold and everything will be all right. It's like a sigh of relief after that, as the waters go down and life goes back to normal, or something like it.

I looked up historic crests of the Susquehanna near Harrisburg and found our experiences backed up by data: number one, 33 feet on 6/24/72 (Agnes), and number two, 29 feet on 3/19/36, when my dad would have been five going on six years old. Yes, we are a repository of memories of rivers! (Did you know that Pennsylvania has more miles of rivers - 86,000 - than any state other than Alaska? Now you do!)

And oh, let me throw in this one treasured river memory, for my big sister Barb, whose bare feet are walking the streets of gold these days. Barb lived in Marysville and worked in Harrisburg, so she had to cross the Susquehanna pretty much every single day. The state of the river was very important news indeed.

She and a friend had a boat that they took out on the river, and sometimes in the summer, I'd get to go along. A bunch of us had a cookout on the boat and watched the fireworks from the river on the 4th of July, and it was amazing. I did not have my camera on me, for I was neck-deep in the river, but I remember the reflections of the fireworks on the water, and wondering if I would ever see it like that again.

And I remember how my body felt to be in the river. Both captured and completely free, all at the same time. I felt the current pulling my body away, and my body wanting to be free, wanting to go!!! Oh, my body responded to the song of the river, like some ancient memory; it wanted to TRAVEL on down to the sea!

Oh, and one more, Barb, for how I miss you, every single day! That time we were in your car and you were driving along the river with the sunroof up and I was hanging out the top with my camera, taking pictures of the river and the bridges and the pink sunset, the wind in my face and the sun in my hair.

And, Barb, you were holding onto me and laughing, oh, laughing, and the music so loud. Just full of glee! Summertime and sisters and the river! And you said to me, Oh hold on, Nita. For if you fall OUT of this car and die, oh, Mom will kill us BOTH!  And how we laughed and laughed. Yeah, RIVER stories!

So it was a good Mother's Day all around, and we are so glad to have family, as we do, to visit and enjoy and share memories (and purloined Oreos) with. :-)  My story for this day seems to revolve around the rivers, so here are three of my favorite river songs:

Bruce Springsteen, The River.
John Mellencamp, To the River.
Garth Brooks, The River.

Aw heck, let's have a FLOOD song, too! Here's Johnny Cash, with Five Feet High and Rising.

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