This past weekend, I was visiting with a very elderly relative.
Our conversation started with gardening, which led a discussion of the weather, then on to the science of digging wells, then to how water flows underground, to dowsing, and then finally to concerns about our drought. We talked about a nearby creek bed that is dry most of the year and serves only as a place where rain water from winter storms runs off to the sea.
Then my relative shared a story about the creek. Decades ago, his grandfather-in-law told him a story that he had heard as a child from an elderly woman. The elderly woman had related that when she was young, there was enough water in the creek to row a boat all the way from the sea to the city — about 10 miles.
My point in sharing this has nothing to do with creeks or boats or drought. My point is that I was listening to an account of an event that happened about 200 years ago. I don’t know about you, but I think it is amazing that this minor little event, a tiny strand of a memory, has threaded its way down six or seven generations.
Factual events happen and become stories told to the next generation. As they get passed along through the years, they may become legends, until finally — if the events are great enough– become myths and flow into the river of our collective unconscious.
I don’t think this boat ride will become a myth, but then again, there is something of a Garden of Eden quality about the story: “Once upon a time, in the days when water flowed freely and everything was green and lovely, a girl-child went on a boat ride……”
ljg (c) 2013.