This week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory.  Don’t forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing!

Santa brought us an aquarium for Christmas this year, and we set it up in our family room.  Every night while we’re watching TV, we can hear the gurgling of water through the filter.

I have to get up to pee a lot while we’re watching TV.  Thank God for Tivo.  Also, Robin hates it because he thinks it’s distracting; it only reminds him that the fish tank isn’t all the way full.

Little does he know, at least until he reads this top secret post which I am going to put on the Internet, that it will never be full to the top.  The gentle splashing soothes me.  I could listen to it for hours.

This probably means that I owe my dad an apology, because when he said the same thing that day in Glacier National Park, we laughed at him a little bit.  Our tent trailer was camped next to the Saint Mary River, and Dad was disappointed that the river slipped silently by our site.  He had chosen that spot just so he could fall asleep listening to the real-live, not-from-a-white-noise-machine river gushing by.

“We should go out there and move some of those rocks,” he said.  And we laughed, because who would do that?  Rearrange a river so that you can hear the sound of water rippling over stones?  You would’ve laughed, too, especially if you were fifteen and you and your brother weren’t sure whether or not you ought to admit that this family vacation was really pretty OK.

And it was.  That very day, we hiked far up into the mountains.  We walked on a glacier.  We saw mountain goats.  We got really, really hot, and when we returned to the campground, that icy river looked awfully inviting.  “And since we’re going in anyway,” my dad hinted, removing the bear bells we made him buy at the gift shop, “We might as well…”

The glacier water was as clear as air, our feet distorted only by its movement, no fish or algae or silt to cloud our view of the pebbly bottom.  After the first painful, cold shock, it was delightful.  We cooled our flushed faces, wet our heads until the sweat washed away.  It was the cleanest clean I have ever felt, and it took real willpower to heed the ranger’s warnings not to drink from the river.  To have felt that cool sweetness sliding down my throat … oh, it was a loss.

A tumbled line of larger rocks straggled across the shallows just upstream from our campsite, almost as though someone else had the same idea once.  We struggled against the current, mild though it was, heaving the stones atop each other until the surfaces broke the top of the water.

Soaked and shivering, we retreated to the trailer to check the effect.  From within the canvas walls, we could hear the burbling.  It had worked!  Dad was right, too, it was calming.  I didn’t even notice the thinness of the mattress under my tired bones as the sound eased me into sleep.

But I did have to get up to pee in the middle of the night.


About Grape

I've got the world's best kids and husband. Great house, steady job. I'm living the American dream. The trick is to appreciate it. I'm working on that part.
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9 Responses to Glacier

  1. Erica M says:

    Loved it. I don’t even like camping, but I would have rearranged the rocks in the river. That sounds awesome.

  2. Julie says:

    I love the sound of water as I am falling asleep – or just relaxing. Reading this *almost* makes me want to go camping to be still in the nature near a rolling river. (Almost.)

  3. This was lovely! You did a great job – I was right there in the river with you (and my feet are still cold.) “It was the cleanest clean I have ever felt…” yes!

  4. Galit Breen says:

    I loved how you wove us into these stories, current and past.

    Your conversational tone drew me right in and I could relate to it all even though I’ve never owned an aquarium and my sense of outdoor adventure is nonexistent. But I got both, because of your words.

    I loved this part: “A tumbled line of larger rocks straggled across the shallows just upstream from our campsite, almost as though someone else had the same idea once. We struggled against the current, mild though it was, heaving the stones atop each other until the surfaces broke the top of the water.” because it was pure poetry!

  5. andygirl says:

    awesome! really great job. your way of storytelling, with a simple voice and choice of details is refreshing.

  6. logyexpress says:

    This is really charming. I like the way you tell a story. I like falling asleep to the sound of water too. Sounds like a great vacation. I also liked how you wove the past and the present together.

  7. Erin says:

    I love camping right on the river and hearing that sound. I wish I had a babbling brook in my back yard just outside my window. It’s so peaceful!

    • Grape says:

      Ooh, a brook in the back yard! I wonder …

      Well, probably not where I live in suburbia. Maybe someday, though – keep the faith!

  8. varunner says:

    Beautiful memory! We camped right next to a river once at Grayson Highlands and I slept like a baby. I’d love to go to Glacier someday.

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