The People’s River and the Gift of Time (U.B.C. – Day 23)

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The Charles River snakes through the southern part of my town, approximately three-quarters of a mile from my front door. On the western side of the bridge is a small waterfall, the size of which belies the fury of the water tumbling over. One the eastern side is a calm in which an observer can lose themselves watching the pattern of the current.

The Charles runs for approximately eighty miles between Hopkinton and Boston Harbor. The river flows through 23 towns and cities in the eastern part of Massachusetts. According to the Charles River Watershed Association, some 35 towns and cities comprise its watershed, the area that drains into it. The Charles is categorized as having two territories: the upper and the lower. The upper section is best known for its industrial development, while the lower is well known for its abundant recreational usage.

The Charles River has been a part of my life forever. I grew up strolling along the banks in Cambridge and Boston, attending the Fourth of July extravaganza on the Esplanade to hear the Boston Pops concert and watch the fireworks, cheering on the rowers during the annual Head of the Charles regatta, or just sitting on the banks to clear my head. From every office I occupied during my fifteen-plus years working outside the home, I could see the Charles. It’s kind of like the sun for me; even when I can’t see it, I know it’s there and I’m grateful.

The Boy and I took a walk the other day to see the waterfall. We see it every day during his school commute, and every morning I point out something different to him: ducks sitting on the bridge watching for fish, somebody putting a kayak or another small boat into the water, somebody fishing off the banks, the water running particularly high or low, or a common sight this past winter, the falls frozen. The waterfall in this part of the river isn’t, by aesthetic standards, terribly dramatic, but being a soul whose happiness depends on water, I find it mesmerizing nevertheless.

We took some bread with us to feed the ducks and he collected tiny pine cones

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while I snapped photos of the water rolling over the rocks at the bottom of the falls.

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We tried to feed the ducks, but that didn’t work out so well. The duck took exception to having chunks of bread thrown at its head and took flight.

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We laughed.

I was a blessed two hours of uninterrupted time with my child. Two hours to talk to him about the things that are happening in his life without being interrupted by phones or computers or other people. Two hours suspended in time. Two hours to prove to him that he is more important to me than all the activities or to-do lists in the world. Two hours to listen to his dreams and talk about his hopes for next year’s school vacation. Two hours to encourage him to dream and talk to him about the importance of setting goals and working towards them. Two hours to listen to his concerns about losing his eldest sister when she gets married and how sad it makes him that he doesn’t see her more often. Two hours to listen to how much he loves his sister who still lives at home with us and how much he enjoys her being around for nightly snuggles and talks.

I was blessed with two hours of his smile.

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Those two hours were a fragile, beautiful gift, reminding me that I need to make time for more gifts to enter my life.


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