frozen

Building memories down by the crick

While cutting potatoes for dinner, Mouse popped her head in through the kitchen door.

“Mom, we’re going down to the crick.”

“Have fun,” I replied with a smile.

For nothing says “country” quite like a crick. As Fine Fishing notes in How to fish a crick,

First of all a creek has none of the raucous, vulgar, freewheeling character of a crick. If they were people, creeks would wear tuxedos and amuse themselves with the ballet, opera, and witty conversation; cricks would go around in their undershirts and amuse themselves with the Saturday night fights, taverns, and humorous belching. Creeks would perspire and cricks, sweat. Creeks would smoke pipes; cricks, chew and spit.

Cricks speak to me of swimming holes and fishing holes, tractor tires and sunken cars. They’re home to snappers and leeches and the odd catfish dragged ashore by an eight year old boy with a homemade fishing pole, standing ankle deep in the mud. They bring to mind memories of a childhood not my own, but experienced vicariously through my dad’s many stories growing up on a farm in northern Indiana.

For me, cricks are the stuff of childhood memories. And I’m not even sure my dad has ever used the word. I was raised speaking Standard English, though my linguistic heritage is riddled with words like “warsh” and “youse” that peg my family as northerners. I was always aware of cricks, but I’m not sure when or where I first heard the word actually used.

It is a backwoods sort of word, rural and “wrong.” As is often the case with those who use the vernacular, it’s adherents are stereotyped as uneducated, unrefined and uncouth. As the type that would enjoy a Saturday night fight and chewing tobacco. The educated rural folk are well aware of this. Thus they guard their language and are perfectly capable of saying “creek” when outsiders are about.

Unless they’ve invited your daughter down to the crick. But by then you are perhaps beginning to lose your outsider status.

A couple hours later, Hunter barked and I looked up to see a pickup driving slowly up the hill. I walked up the road to see my daughter and her new friend sitting on the tailgate, laughing and swinging their legs. They were covered in mud from head to toe. Mouse, we soon discovered, even had her first leech.

My daughter, I think, will have plenty of stories to tell.