I remember Grandpa curled over a barrel filled with rainwater. He scooped up raindrops in a pot, then rinsed his fresh-washed hair. He said it made his hair soft. I never understood why he did not care for the water that came through the pipes.
Other than the barrel of water, I interacted with lots of hard surfaces as a kid in Detroit. Everywhere I looked, I saw geometry: concrete sidewalks, brick homes, asphalt streets, tarred alley ways, freeways, and factories. I seldom noticed maple and ash trees that flanked neighborhood streets.
During the summer, my family spent many weekends vacationing in a rural town 55 miles outside Detroit. We lived in small cabins that overlooked grassy fields and tree-lined Lake Chemung. Stars and fireflies replaced street lamps and traffic lights.
The tranquil fresh waters were my place for adventure. Cold in the morning and warm by lunchtime, I slipped in and out of the basin all day long. A dock provided a runway for swan dives and cannonballs. I dog-paddled, breast-stroked, or floated on squeaky truck inner tubes. The lake floor, where I loved to drag my feet, was peach fuzzy and supple as a baby’s belly.
Sunscreen and mosquito repellant were my only needs. Swim-suited, sun-kissed, and embraced by Mother Nature, Detroit slipped far away.
Grandpa had his barrel of rain transported by clouds and winds. I had my freshwater lake topped off by dew drops. We both found wholeness in a fragmented land.