The cold water made whitecaps over rocks as it thundered beneath the ancient covered bridge. It was hot in the foothills, and the waterside trees were still. Snowmelt from the mountains fed the creek. The icy current on my legs made an uncomfortable contrast to the sun's heat on my shoulders.
I climbed a rock midstream, gripping the slimed contours of the stone with my toes. My unusual shoes, with toe-grips and high-traction soles, were receiving their first big test.
Confident of my position on the rock, I looked downstream to see how far I had left to travel.
I would soon catch up with Lauren. She was traveling on the bank, above the creek, while I braved the waterway. I left my perch, and resumed my trudge over submerged rocks. Through flashes of light on the clear water, I made out glimpses of the creekbed. It was when I had passed out of all sight of the bank, shrouded by dense overhanging trees and brush, that I found the staff.
I knew at once that it was no ordinary piece of wood. For starters, it sank, which meant it couldn't be a witch. Boldened by my logic, I drew it forth from the water. Whether it was green from aquatic corruption or other means I could not tell, but it proved an able aid to watery explorations.
With a firm grip on the staff I forded the deepest parts of the creek and made it back to dry land. Hardly had I returned than Lauren discovered a wing feather of some great avian. I scanned the skies for any signs of the massive falcon that must have lost this feather, but we were alone.
As I stood in the sun, dripping creekwater onto the narrow, brush-strewn path, I knew I had a rare opportunity. Without hesitation, I seized the feather. The long creepers which struggled to reclaim the footpath for the wilderness provided me with the rope I needed. In a trice I had the feather lashed in place atop the staff. Truly, it looked as though it belonged. I knew a random act of destiny had this day been fulfilled.
With the druid staff restored to its natural form, I had but one task left to me.
I knew of a quiet place just off the bank where the rocks had been tumbled together. Separated from the current, the stones sat half-in and half-out of still water -- the perfect place to leave the staff.
Who knows what may become of the staff there, on the bank of a snow-fed creek beneath that ancient covered bridge?
This is a true, if poetical, accounting of a picnic at the Honey Run Covered Bridge near Chico, California.
To see Lauren's take on the picnic, check out her article at A News Cafe.