The Voice of Water


Sitting here listening to the rain and thinking about all the sounds water can make.

As a child, I lay on the dock at my grandparents’ camp on Spaulding Lake, way up in northern Maine.  The wood was old, weathered to grey by lake water, rain, sun, and long harsh winters.  The sun soaked into the rough boards and they gave it back not like the blast of heat from pavement, but in a slow release like the soothing warmth of a hot water bottle on a cold day.  The heat bled into every muscle of my body and left me limp, relaxed.

Laying there, I would put my eye to a crack and stare into the water a few inches below.  It smelled of weeds and worms, fish and wet rocks; the mineral composition of the land that cupped it, as individual as a fingerprint.  Every so often, a sunfish swam past, undulating side to side, passing through bars of sunlight and into shadow.  The iridescent colors of its scales blazed and faded by turns as it swam — emerald to olive drab, sapphire to indigo, gold to brass.  Its eye was a yellow circle, pirate’s gold drowned by centuries.

When I finished watching the fish, I would turn my face to the side and lay my ear against the crack to listen.  The lake had many voices beneath that dock.  It smacked the wood with a flat, open palm.  It chuckled and clucked.  It sucked; an odd, almost thumping sound.  At times it made a two-fold noise, a ‘lap’ followed by a ‘dub,’ like a heart’s beat.  That giant pulse (although the lake itself is small) pulled at my own heart, matching it like mother to child, connecting me to the Earth.  The divide between us vanished.  Often, it lulled me to sleep.

Last year, I returned to the lake after more than 30 years away.  (Long story.)  It was September and much of summer’s warmth had fled.  Autumn comes early in the north country.  The nights were cold, the mornings brisk.  I walked out onto the dock (a different dock yes; Pop’s old one had long-ago succumbed to rot) and looked at the lake.  Then I lay down, stretched out on the sun-bleached boards, and put my ear to the crack.

The lake spoke.  It welcomed me home.

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in autumn, Childhood, Environment, Essays, Fall, Family, Maine, Melissa Crandall, Memoir, Memory, Oakfield, Personal History, Rain, Water, Women, Writer, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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