Bradley Falls

Both Sides Now

I love Willie Nelson and Frank Sinatra. A couple of years ago I made a mix for the car. It was Willie and Frank alternating versions of standards. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “Blue Skies”, that sort of stuff. The disc stayed in the car for about a year. Scottie loved it. Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” made  the mix. That song is deep. And, yeah, I’d call it a standard.

Ok, I admit that Frank’s is not the best version of the song. But I like it.

Requirement for Adventure

A true adventure requires the genuine fear for your life. Fearing for your safety is an excursion. Fearing for your life is an adventure. Fearing nothing is a walk.

I took my daughter Scottie hiking in 2017. She was four. I didn’t bring much. We hiked Bradley Falls in Saluda, NC. It’s about a mile in and back with a waterfall and swimming hole. It’s a good one with kids. The terrain is tough but manageable. The payoff is huge.

Rain threatened. Dark grey cumulus clouds swirled above. But no rain fell. So we went for it.

At a fork in the trail you can either ford a creek or veer left along a ridge running along the creek. I let Scottie pick our direction. She chose to veer left. We followed the trail a while and I saw signs of overgrowth. I suspected we took the long route. We came to a purple trail marker on a tree. Purple means private property. For fear of being shot, I turned us around. Best to avoid purple trail markers.

We lost about thirty minutes. The rain still threatened, but never fell. We crossed the creek and found our way to the falls. We swam and explored. There was another kid there with his Dad. The kid brought a floating shark and would throw it into the falls and let the current carry it back to us. Like a shark boomerang. It would get stuck in the rocks and a Dad would swim out and grab it. Like a Dad playing fetch.

The rain began to fall. Slowly at first. Drops pelting the water, slow ripples extending to every corner of the pool. Time to go.

I brought no jacket, no towel, and no change of clothes. Scottie was soaking wet. The rain got harder. I picked up Scottie. She cried. I carried her. I ran the straightaways. I tiptoed across the large rocks. I splashed thru the creek.

I could tell she was miserable. I knew she was gonna get pneumonia and die and it was all my fault. My arms and back hurt. I was growing weaker. I was gonna get pneumonia and die. I’m a terrible Dad.

Then a small voice, barely audible under the sound of the rain. “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.”

Scottie was singing. She grew louder with confidence. “From up and down and still somehow. It’s cloud’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all.”

I joined in “I looked at clouds that way. But now they only block the sun. They rain and snow on everyone. So many things I would have done. But clouds got in my way.”

And on we sang. My strength returned. We sang at the top of our lungs.

Ice Bath

We made it back to the car and stripped off most of our wet clothes. I cranked the heater. The disc in the cd player picked up from where we left it before our hike.

“I’ve looked at love from both sides now. From give and take and still somehow. It’s love’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know love. Don’t know it at all.”

“Tears and fears and feeling proud. To say I love you right out loud. Dreams and schemes and circus crowds. I’ve looked at life that way.”

The rain stopped. I whipped the car down that narrow mountain road with the abandon of one who had just jumped out of an ice bath. Scottie sang. Driving along in nothing but wet boxer shorts, I laughed.

2 thoughts on “Bradley Falls

  1. This story is the sweetest-it shows so much love between a father and daughter. What a great gift

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life.


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