Our blue stream of consciousness joins past and future

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 7, 2018

Bighill Creek refreshes Cochrane’s parkland on its way down to the Bow. Photo by James Harbeck

This week’s and next’s guest columns are my Father’s Day treats from our two sons, James and Reg. Toronto writer/editor/ photographer James Harbeck and his wife Aina just spent a week with us in Cochrane. While enjoying our town’s pathways, James was inspired to write the following column. By the way, he’s a linguist, too. He publishes a blog on intriguing language-related issues at sesquiotic.wordpress.com, where you can also read about his latest book, Confessions of a Word Lush. Here’s my Father’s Day treat from James:

DAY BY DAY, high and far on its edges, Cochrane grows. And instant by instant, in the town’s green heart, a blue past and future flows.

Bighill Creek comes to air above town and wanders down to see what’s here. It sashays past the old RancheHouse, swerves under a footbridge, swings wide, sighs at the glittering graffiti under the highway and slides under another footbridge and the tracks. Nourishing grasses and trees as it passes, it ducks under Glenbow Drive and plays peekaboo with the red paths of Glenwood, William Camden, and Riverfront Parks: eight more bridges and two culverts. A jogger out with the dogs will cross it and cross it again, and again, and again. And then it becomes Bow water.

I visit Cochrane and the Bow Valley landscape of my youth every year, and every year I walk and run along and across Bighill Creek. As I change, and the people I know change, and Cochrane changes, the creek is more or less the same, depending on the season – but, like any stream, its water is different from moment to moment.

But it returns as I do, as the seasons do. Water evaporates from its surface and soaks the ground from its bed, and the plants it refreshes breathe it into the air. The water in the air dreams itself into clouds; the clouds rest down as snow and rain; the snow and rain feed the springs and the creek. And so, although most of the creek flows on like the countless instants we lose to memory in time, some of it returns.

And after another year, I return. I am the same person but not quite the same, and Cochrane is the same town but not quite the same. I stand on a bridge and reflect on the creek. And the water flows by like mind into memory, some of it newly met and some coming back to me.

NICE FATHER’S DAY treat, James. Thanks. —Dad


© 2018 James Harbeck

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