One thing I always liked about New Hampshire (and any river anywhere that has rocks) is the rocks. This photo (credit B.Pawlow) was taken as we were gently ascending (at the time) up the Wild Ammonoosic River, alongside NH Route 112. At one spot, a sweeping highway of rocks curved in a wide arc, bending just enough not to bury the road. I imagined the spring floods, kinetic energy unleashed, rocks tumbling and clunking invisibly because of the raging waters. That is why the rocks are all worn smooth. All of them, without exception.

Two days earlier, Brian had mentioned to me that he was wondering why I had not written a heartfelt post about my sister, whom I love very much. I did not have a good answer for him and this is what I was thinking about as I enjoyed the scenery, watching the now calm and lazy river struggle down the mountain. And then, just as my Dad would have done, I invented a metaphor (or a simile or an analogy, I can never keep them straight).

How is it possible that all of these rocks, countless rocks, have been worn smooth? Only rushing water can have such an effect. The water runs constantly, but it is my understanding that the majority of the smoothing process takes place during times of high water, when the force moves the rocks easily, as if  they were game pieces on a playing board.

The capacity of water to move things, things that we believe to be unmovable, is amazing. The floods in Vermont last year, at a time when no one expected them, is a good example. Entire hillsides and highways, bridges and cars, were swept away, as easily as leaves off your driveway. For some, it was a major inconvenience for a few weeks or months. For others, life changed forever. Such is the power of water moving.

Then, as I have often done on this bicycle excursion, I started to think. I wondered how the rocks would feel if they actually had feelings. What if the rocks were like people with emotions and loves, fears and worries? The water flowing over them could be the minutes and hours ticking away, unstoppable. Each spring flood would be a birthday, with new adventures and surroundings awaiting. Of course, you would be a little smoother too.

I thought I discovered a flaw in my musings. I saw a huge rock to in the middle of the river, towering over all. Surely, no waters were going to move the behemoth. But, in reality, this rock had already been moved here. Any illusions that it was impervious to the passage of time (and water) was simply that; an illusion. It too, someday, would be one of it’s smaller neighbors, clunking along, bumping into everyone else.

I occasionally feel like such a large rock. When I arrived home yesterday, to comfortable surroundings, turned up the air conditioning and opened the refrigerator, I was the biggest rock in the river, immutable. And this is the fallacy.

No one can resist the passage of time, even as the rocks can not hold themselves in place, as the roaring waters push them along. Even the biggest of all the rocks, when it wakes up in the morning and is proud to say “I have not moved”, when it looks around everything is completely different because every familiar rock is gone, forever, succumbing to the force of time and water.

I am working my way back to my sister, and if you have made it this far, you probably know me very well. I am very comfortable amongst my friends. They have the ability to make me happy and content and to never move, spring floods or not.  I attended my ski club’s bicycle ride tonight and I realized that at this very same ride, last year, my Dad was there helping to check the riders in and collect money for pizza at the local restaurant.

For years and years, my Dad was the biggest rock in the river to me. Year after year, he never faltered, and he loved me, he always supported me, and I always knew I could meet him for breakfast and he would listen attentively to anything that was on my mind. He never passed judgement, he just listened, and then maybe had a word of encouragement or advice.

Over the years, the current of the river slowly eroded away his foothold. The unexpected flood washed him away, and when I woke up the entire river was different. The big rock was gone, I looked around, and thank God my sister and my friends were still there. And this is where I finally get back to my sister, Lynn, and I apologize for taking so long. Luckily, when I looked around, there was my sister. The swiftly moving current, that had either moved me or moved my Dad, had left us shoulder to shoulder. We are tumbled smooth, the water has had its way with us, and it will continue to do so. I can only hope that when I wake up in the morning, that familiar rock is still next to me.

I don’t know if I have answered the question Brian asked. It’s tough to answer a tough question, and it’s equally hard to write a reply. My sister is an awesome person. She rows a scull on the Connecticut River and has raced on the River Charles. Lynn loves her garden, flowers and veggies. She is happily married to Jeanne, with several grandchildren (I witnessed my grand-nephew running into the house, screaming excitedly, “Gramma’s here, Gramma’s here”). I often brag about Lynn being the Vermont Teacher of the Year, which bothers her to no end because she wasn’t. But she should be. And I love her.