Avoiding Water Babies
Lake Tahoe had no fairies, but Water Babies prowled its depths. I know because both grandfathers of K. and L. told me so. One man was Washo, the other Apache—both Native American—and they knew. Later, when showing K.’s grandfather a tiny pink arrowhead I found, he squinted, held it between his big thumb and forefinger, and named it a bird-point. It’s an arrowhead for shooting waterfowl. Then he asked me where I found it. I was always scrounging such things, gawking for them from the back of my bay horse, Captain. When I told him where—above the spit of forested, boulder-strewn land between two mountain creeks—he shook his head and warned me to be careful there. That’s where the Water Babies live. I remember feeling afraid and avoiding the dangerous currents that melded as the two creeks combined. He knew people had drowned there. And I was never one of them.
I Remember Mountain Ghosts:
- The girl buried in the old cemetery overgrown with gnarly sagebrush that hid toppled markers.
- The black cat crouched on top of a white marker the night C. and I crept up to the cemetery with her dad’s flashlight that died when we arrived.
- The Tommy Knockers who still noisily mined the shafts they had blasted from bedrock despite the fact they had died long ago beneath the granite, their bodies never recovered.
- The couple who died in their car that careened over Cadillac Curve where the car now rusts.
- Crazy old Mrs. Chalmers who drove her wagon to town every day the stage arrived, seeking her Englishman who never returned to her or the remote mountain mansion he built her.
- Jake Marklee who was shot for his land or maybe his toll-bridge or for many other imagined reason that still haunt my imagination.
- The unknown Washo elders buried in unmarked, sunken graves in a patch of forest fenced off with barbed wire so old the Jeffry pines had buried the wire deep in the bark.
- The two blind Washo sisters who lived in a wikiup above town and hoarded old buttons that scattered down the rocky hillside as a century of snows came and went.
- The man who gave name to Hangman’s Bridge over the turbulent East Fork of the Carson River.
- The phantom buildings of Silver Mountain City that I could see if I squinted just right even though it was nothing but an empty flat of sagebrush and Jeffry pines to adult eyes.
Join the flash fun at Lisa Reiter’s “Bite Size Memoir” challenge. Already she is onto challenge number three. Reading other flash memories niggles at buried memories of my own. And this surprises me. It’s like word associations–Lisa writes about faeries and I think about water babies; she writes about magic and I think of old ghosts. I like the detail dredging that is going on in my memory bog, but it takes reading as much as writing to pull it off. What will my memories remind you of?