Matfield Green - Our first years

Monday, July 03, 2006

Float trip on Middle Creek

The temperature at the bunkhouse read 101.7 when Bill and Pat and I got in the car to go to John and Annie Wilson's annual float trip on Middle Creek. About 30 people, ages 10 to 80 (that's our Barb Armstrong the adventurous octogenarian) gathered at the Wilson's Five Oaks Ranch, toting inner tubes and wearing old clothes and sneakers as directed. Pat does not own sneakers so he wore steal-toed boots.

We piled the inflated tubes in a cattle truck and loaded ourselves into the back of three or four pickups for the short trip down to the creek. The water was cool and muddy and it was a particular pleasure to float slowly downstream, visited by dragon flies, one tiny frog and only the ocasional more annoying insect.

The water is low all over this summer (though, June Talkington reminded us later, nothing like the summers of 1953, '54 and '55, when corn grew two feet tall and then stopped, dried up and withered in the hard earth), so we had to do some portaging. But mostly we floated, and chatted and paddled just a little bit with our arms when we started to fall behind the group.

Getting back to the house at about 6:30 we showered and changed and uncovered our covered dishes while Annie and John put out the lemonade and cooked hot dogs. My curried rice salad was a big success! I was astounded by the shear number of assembled pies and cakes and other sweets and amazed by how quickly and joyfully they were eaten.

After food, out came the instruments. Annie on guitar. Lauren on the banjo. Jim on guitar. June on violin. A keyboard, mandelin and even a string bass. And they played just the songs you'd think they'd play on a hot July night in the country.

As we got in the car for the 20-some mile trip home Pat looked back at the musicians and the audiece in their lawnchairs and their blankets and the moon and the young people drinking beer in the bed of the pickup, and said, quite rightly, "Toto, we're not in Chicago anymore."


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