He was 11. She was 12. The sky was blue. The fields were a vast ocean of brown wheat waves that rolled and broke with the hot breeze of August. The big-peopled cities of England were a week’s ride away on a fast horse. On the muddy banks of a green river that moved imperceptibly, he lay next to her. They were silent.
She wore a white homespun linen shirt and an old powder blue dress that hung loosely. The unwrinkled skin of her ankles and wrists were exposed to the sun. It warmed them. He wore a faded, red, roughly woven shirt which was open at the neck. Brown pants, stained with the soil of Renaissance Northern Europe, and gathered at the ankles…these he wore every day.
Every day since June, every day of the long Summer, every day since the first cliff swallows appeared, migrating from countries in the Mediterranean South, and further yet to Northern Africa… Every day, this boy and this girl, as the sun sank low in the sky, having finished their family’s field work…They ran to be with each other. They came here to lay on the banks of the river, next to the other. Too young to be in love, too young to notice that each was about to change and grow up, too new to the world to understand death or sorrow or loss… In their newness, in their youth, they only knew that in their stomachs, they felt joy as they lay together on the banks of the river.
In her blue dress, in his red shirt, they met here by the water to look at clouds, and to talk, and to be silent. There was a big world to figure out. It required of them that they question, and giggle, and wrestle, and swim in the slow green stream, and be quiet and think. And so they did this thing every day…as the solstice passed…as the shortening days of August heat came in visible waves over the swollen seed heads of wheat. The tired croaks of frogs begin to lessen. White birds with patches of wing iridescence passed overhead. Green grasshoppers with yellow wings made clicking noises all around them. This was joy. And the girl and the boy were connected to the heartbeat of what was right with the world.
Jeffrey Post-Holmberg is a contributing writer for River Notes Blog. When he is not busy signaling right turns and left turns on his daily bike commute to work, he wishes deep in his heart that his little boy will someday lay on the banks of a river and watch puffy clouds float above, as he grows up.