Great Gully, north of Aurora, NY, in the Finger Lakes, rushes with water in the spring but is nearly dry in a dry summer. Its water flows down the ridge to Cayuga Lake. When I lived in Aurora, I loved to walk up the dry stream bed. There was always something mysterious about the water-carved rocks, the trickling stream, and the teeming bird and insect life of the surrounding woods. I found God speaking through an ordinary experience, inviting me beyond the reality we see into a larger connection with all creation.
Going Up Great Gully
Walking up the dry stream bed,
Water-worn stone dusty in the August drought,
I crossed and re-crossed the shrunken stream
On rocks carved to strange shapes in spring torrents.
The morning light sifted in a pale haze
Through maple and oak, casting reflections
In still pools left behind by the receding stream.
The damp air was rich with light,
The promise of the day’s heat, and the calls
Of peewees and chickadees.
I took my photographs and was content,
Complete, somehow, in myself and the day.
Then, out of some memory of springs long past,
The phantom sound of rushing water filled the air.
The stones where I stood were covered,
And white foam swirled around my knees.
Ravished by that sweet torrent,
I longed to float away like some pale stick,
Tumbling across the rocks and over the edge
Of waterfalls, submerged at last
In the churning depths under the fall.
Frightened by my own desire,
I scrambled up the bank to relative safety
Among the maples on the hillside,
While the morning hummed about me
Like a thousand bees.