Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lionhead: Water Earth Fire

"I just love how I can hear Lionhead at night," my cousin Laura says to my mother.

"I know," she replies, "isn't it nice? I can hear the creek too."

I butt in. "What? What do you mean, 'You can hear Lionhead.'?"

Laura turns her head to me from her chair on th sandy white beach. My toes dig in to the cool sand of the evening. "I can hear Lionhead Creek rushing at night. When it's all quiet and everyone's gone to sleep."

Laura's head turns to look up the lake and farther, up to the distant mountain that peeks between the purple hills above the shore. Lionhead. The "Mountain" part goes unsaid. Its shaggy rock-striped face goes without saying. It needs no introduction as a mountain.

Funny thing is, I wake up tonight at 3:39 am, have to pee, leave both kids in the camper a bit unsurely - I keep looking back at Katherine as I stand at the door of the camper, my hand on the knob, turning slowly, that screen door that no matter how slowly you open it releases with a loud Clack.

Turn, turn, slowly, looking back. She often wakes up within a minute or two of my body absent from her side - and now she's in the upper bunk alone -- Clack -- She scootches like an earthworm, wriggling, face scrunching. Her body releases and she lets out a wheeze like a sigh. I slide out the camper door.

And there it is. In the quiet, now that everyone's asleep, I hear it. Unmistakable. A roar like the black whooshing of the universe, sliding down that mountain, rushing past the pelt of trees, skimming the air above the water to fill my ears like a shell with the volume turned up to 10.

How could I never have heard this sound before? Lionhead Creek in the darkness. Whooshing down Lionhead Mountain. The head waters that carried the ashes of my ancestors. Grandma Bessie and Grandpa John.

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