Creek Glass

Mid August.

The hazy, lazy days of summer lengthen and shimmer with cicada buzz and dandelion fuzz, and in filling out the final pages of your summer writing journal, the golden afternoons become a wandering ellipses of nothing much to do.

Nothing much to do at all....

Vacations to the beach and amusement park are mostly over. The only anticipation left is The One That Shall Not Be Looked Forward To no matter how much you want to show off your new Trapper Keeper or reconnect with friends not seen since June, surprising them with a smile full of "big kid" front teeth that weren't there the last time they saw you.

Mom doesn't have anything planned for these next few weeks, and sitting on carpet remnant squares during vacation bible school or building Mentos-and-Pepsi rockets at scout camp are all distant memories of early July.

Remember early July?

You couldn't believe your good luck. Even in July, the swimming lessons of June felt like years ago and August was a yard-long calendar page that wouldn't even get posted on the fridge until after your trip to Ocean City, a two-week soccer clinic, a forever-and-a day hike over your grandmother's mountain, and hours and hours and hours at the community pool. You were convinced that with so much to do, July would stretch on endlessly, and August might not even happen until the week before Christmas.

And then it was August.

And then it was gone.


With nothing much to do today, we grabbed our water shoes and a few plastic buckets and headed over to the neighborhood park along the creek.

This time of year, the creek is wide and shallow with just enough deeper dips in the bed for a surprise plunge into cold, clear water that looks pretty clean but is probably filled with just enough upstream agricultural run-off to make necessary a motherly warning about the perils of actually swimming in and ingesting agricultural run-off. Our creek outing would be wading only.

Still, we eat a lot of organic food, so I figure even with one or two accidental plunges it's even-steven at this point.

The girls meandered up and down the creek, crossing from shore to shore and back again in search of found treasures, while I waded-in ankle deep with a toddler who wanted nothing to do with setting foot in a "wa-wa" filled with rocks and shells and weeds and fish and a giant white egret stalking through the current and occasionally flapping its big flappy wings for no good reason that I could figure out except to further freak out the small human who was now screaming wildly in the larger human's arms. The toddler was just not interested in creeks or birds or slanting rays on sparkling water or much of anything to do with this particular August afternoon the way mom was letting it happen.

And so the toddler and I dug in the playground sandbox and swung on the swing and slid on the slide while the girls strayed aimlessly through the hours until finally they trudged back up the creek bank with sweaty hair, a few more freckles, and buckets filled to the top with watery loot. They gave me a quick rundown of the inventory as we packed our things and headed for home:

a few good round flat stones

snail shells

a fishing lure minus the hook

a wonderful smooth hunk of polished red and white creek glass


a crayfish skeleton.

I made a mental note to check the snail shells when we got home just to make sure that they were really vacated and wouldn't become a source of mysterious stink a few days from now.

The toddler was worn out from the sand and surf, and while I was putting him down for a nap, the girls got the okay to lounge in front of the TV for a while. We haven't had them checked recently for Nature Deficit Disorder, but from the blank looks of complete exhaustion and distinct lack of fidgety twitching, I figured they had received about the recommended daily allowance of vitamins Go, Outside, and Play.

I poured myself a tall glass of fizzy lemon soda, sat down on the front porch beneath the dappled shade of our enormous oak tree, and began picking through the shells and rocks and feathers and childhood's summer-day mementos, keeping the keepers and not finding any stinkers, and finally taking time to admire the beautiful, polished red creek glass...

The beautiful...



"creek glass".

Uh..."creek glass"?


That "creek glass" would be a chillum, a small glass pipe favored by Rastifarians to smoke cannabis during their religious ceremonies.

And in spite of having been cleansed by watery agricultural run-off, from the smell of the pipe, the last religious ceremony had been recent.




I put the pipe on the desk in the kitchen so I would remember to show it to my husband and then we'd both have a good chuckle about the "creek glass" and then we would...uh...dispose of the...religious an appropriate and respectful manner, and that would be that.

In the meantime, I made some phone calls, puttered around, made more calls....

My mother-in-lawarrived to pick up my oldest daughter for skating lessons, and after showing me her new purple cell phone, she assisted my daughter in scrambling to get out the door on time, and they were gone. I was left thinking about thinking about thinking about dinner, when my husband walked in the door home from work. Eager to share my humorous "creek glass" story for a few parental yuks, I turned to the kitchen desk to grab the polished red punchline...

and it wasn't there.

And after a quick search under a pile of bills and around a pile of books and under more piles of bills, the pipe still wasn't there.

And I thought and thought and thought about where it could be, did it drop off the desk, did I put it somewhere else and not remember, did I put it back in my pocket...? And then slowly but surely - like being on holiday in Paris and sorta-kinda recalling your one semester of high school French halfway through eating a Cheval Burger - it dawns on you:

Your daughter took the "creek glass" to show to her friends at skating class.

MY daughter took the "creek glass" to show to HER friends at skating class!

I scrambled for the phone and frantically called my mother-in-law's cell phone, all the while chanting a fervent prayer to whichever patron saint was ambassador to Jamaica, oh please, please, please let my mother-in-law have kept the same cell phone number or I'm going to have to outrace her brand new Volkswagen in our beat-up Golf, when Thank Bob Marley! she answered her cell and I couldn't pussyfoot around, I just blurted out that there was a good possibility that my daughter was concealing a pot pipe in her mittens and she was going to show it off to all the girls at class and then we were all going to go to jail for not having dreadlocks.

My mother-in-law promptly handed over the phone to my daughter:

"Honey? Sweetie? You remember the creek glass you found?"


"Where is it?"

"Uhm...uhmmm...on your desk?"

"Are you sure? Are you sure it's on the desk and you didn't take it to show your friends?"

(Child hearing hint of stress in parent's voice.) "I didn't take it."

"Are you sure you're sure? Because if you did take it you're not in trouble, I promise. I just need to know."

(Child now certain she's in trouble for something but not sure what.) "I didn't take it."

(Mom counting on fact that 3rd Grade Anti-Smoking Campaign of Fear is still fresh in daughter's mind. April was eons ago.) "Okay...well...okay. But listen...if you do have it, don't show it to anyone okay? That creek glass is really a kind of pipe that people use to smoke. Tobacco. Smoke tobacco. I'm not sure that all of the adults at skating showing it off to kids. Even though it is really pretty. Do you understand?"

(Child sufficiently horrified.) "Really?! Oh no! No, I don't have it! I won't show it to anyone!"

(Mother convinced.) Good. Okay. Okay. Good. Have fun at skating.

Which is all fine and good - Hooray! and Hurrah! and Phew! - but which still leaves me with the uncomfortable question:

Where is the "creek glass"?

Where oh where oh where?

I can only imagine that some cold evening in deepest, darkest February-

during a dinner party at our house with the parish priest, or perhaps with my husband's boss, or maybe with the school guidance counselor, or even with all three in attendance, of course! -

the toddler will toddle into the dining room -

his face beaming, his smile as wide as an August day -

the toddler will appear in the dining room and clutched in his adorable fingers will be a wonderful smooth hunk of polished, red creek glass.

A souvenir of summer.

Which he will ceremoniously plop on the table.

And us with no dreadlocks.

And winter suddenly stretches on forever.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Too, too funny.

The kids of the author that coined the term "Nature Deficit Disorder" went to school with my kids. I really enjoyed his column when he was working at our local paper.

Debbie said...

the wading is good foreshadowing, man. this is kinda all symbolic and sh*t, ain't it. wow. i'm like, totally blown away by how you like linked the part about the kids and sun on the water - that was such an awesome scene, dude, that part with the slanted rays? i loved that part.

what was i saying?

do you have any marshmallows or cookies or anything?

man, you are so awesome.

can i sleep here?

MereCat said...

that's so funny! Oh my gosh! And you told it so well. So lyrical, the creek glass tale.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Take comfort - many people (including myself) would have no idea what it is.

Which brings us to the question - how did you know?

Anonymous said...

ya mon said...

"Which brings us to the question - how did you know?"

Liberal Arts Degree

unmitigated me said...

Ah, that halcyon days of late summer, when we all scramble to hide our drug paraphernalia. That liberal arts degree had to come in handy sometime, eh?

Anonymous said...

Creek Glass. When I first read the title of the post, I was thinking maybe you started taking Greek classes and kept screwing up the way you say it! And then as I read, I never even blinked when you mentioned the creek glass the girls found.

Hilarious post.

Also, the beginning? I was so lost in the childhood summer memories. I'm actually inspired to write some of my own!

Amy said...

I love the beginning part about the way summer starts like a magical time warp but suddenly comes to an end.

Creek glass - ha. Now glass pipes are coming up in your google sidebar ads. That's pretty funny too!

Tiffi33 said...

I was wondering what kind of creek glass could be red and I have my answer!!

I am currently marveling at HOW fast this summer went...the days of sleeping in are OVER....makes me sad...then, my kids start whining and wrestling, and I am glad we are T minus 2 weeks!!!

Katie Alender said...

So funny! Lovely writing, too.

Rivetergirl said...

I love your writing. It's elegant and well-crafted and then the subject takes a turn to drug paraphernalia. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

That was great. Fantastic writing and funny as hell. Good luck with the search!

Kelly said...

I bet my husband's friends were hanging at that creek. Seriously, they'll be 75 and still smoking up.

I'm glad that no show-and-tell took place.

Karen Jensen said...

Ha! Nothing like the image of a toddler with paraphernalia.

gwendomama said...

i am laughing so hard i look like i am high.

wait. am i?

no i think i am not.

wow. that is funny.
REALLY can't stop laughing funny.

toddlers are the gift that keep on giving.

Anonymous said...

That is hilarious! I've spent a lot of happy summer days in the creek, but not once did I ever find anything as good as "creek glass."

If your luck is like mine, the visitor they will choose to share their treasure with will be either a member of the clergy or some type of law enforcement officer.

Krista said...

Creek Glass??! Oh I am laughing so hard that it might seem as I took a puff on that ceremonial hooka! Ah, the innocence of childhood, huh? We can only stave them off for so long. The call to you mother in law explaining the dire circumstances must have been a hoot too!
I can see the poor stoned soul now, leaning over the creek and woefully lamenting the loss of his/her prized and hand-blown glass treasure that slipped through wet and "herb" scented fingers! One man's loss is another man's gain (or pre-teen girl in this case!). Oh that is just SO funny!

T with Honey said...

You never know what you'll find in the creek these days. At least it wasn't a 'balloon'. My little cousins have come across a few of those in some creeks.

preTzel said...


I can by a glass bong and you will credit for it!

Glass bongs
Browse a huge selection now. Find exactly what you want today.

Way cool. So what ever happened to it? Have you found it? Did the other dotter take it and was using it for her dollies or something? Maybe her dollies like Creek Glass? :D

scargosun said...

I just put my head in my hands and my work. My co-working wants to know why and I can't make a long story short.

Anissa Mayhew said...

Oh that is too too good! I think I'll send you a little Christmas care package this year, to be included, but not limited to: rolling papers, a Philly blunt and some lighters.

Not that I would have any idea what you could possibly do with any of it.

Mr Farty said...

Lucky those snail shells weren't infested with, like, roaches. Man.

Angela said...

Now that would be funny

Peggy Sez.. said...

Just remember to " Smoke two joints in tha morning and smoke two more at night" and everything will be all right. ;p

Variations On A Theme said...

I can not believe what an incredibly gifted writer you are! I know I've said that before, but I am SO blown away by this post. Please, please make a book out of some of this stuff. You are my most favoriteist blog. (Yes, I was an English major.)

Anonymous said...

Umm. Yeah. I was wondering where that went.

Unknown said...

Okay, I had no idea this post was going there! What a riot! Please, please, please let us know if and when it shows up!

Julie Marsh said...

Here I thought this post was going to be all sentimental and shit.


Marmite Breath said...

We're supposed to go to the beach and search for starfish today (I'm planning on topping up my tan) but I'll keep my eye out for some creek glass.

Or ocean glass.

Or if I'm honest, a full pipe and some on-site babysitting.

And a chicken pot pie.

anne said...

If you do located it, and you didn't get a present for mom's birthday yet...

Really, though, that was hysterical - the incident and the telling of it. You rock the blog.

mamatulip said...

My husband walked to the store for milk last weekend, saw a tea box on the road, picked it up and guess what was inside? Papers, a bag of weed and some joints.


Anonymous said...

I thought that was one of those nifty glass dildos that are supposed to do wonders for your... nevermind.

Also, I miss the old skool trapper keepers. The world was a better place when you could velcro your binder shut. [sigh]

Shawn said...

Fab writing here, dear friend. And, man, too funny. You couldn't make this shit up. I love motherhood! (today)

Unknown said...

Like undomesticdiva, I glanced past the photo first and thought, "WTH, what's with the PDA?"

Then I read the story.

Mrs. G. said...

I would have thought it was a hobbit telescope.

I love this post, J. Way to capture the rhythm of summer.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I was wondering where I dropped that.


Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Gosh. I don't know whether to panic along with you or just laugh until I fall off of my chair. Maybe both.

David said...

Thank you! This was some of best writing I've read in a very long time. It was beautiful and evocative and moving and funny all at the same time. Aside from the craziness of the creek glass, I just loved your descriptions of parenting which so vividly brought back the time when my own four kids were young (and even when I was young ... a few years before that). Details such as sitting on carpet remnant squares and making rockets from Mentos and Pepsi were like stumbling upon faded snapshots in a forgotten photo album. The part about the daily vitamins of Go, Outside and Play was perfect (our kids always seemed so undernourished in that department compared to our friends' kids). And the phrase "thinking about thinking about thinking about dinner" .. well, thankfully, some things never change even when the kids grow up.

Thanks for making my day.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I'm so glad I kept this on my Reader until I had a moment to read this. It was a treat to savor, much like I had wished I had savored summer a little more.

Hopefully, when your creek glass rolls out into view, it will be among such nerdy folks that they will have no idea what it is. Or, such hip people they won't really care.

Anonymous said...

I really like your writing. The creek glass is the best. This is the main reason that we as parents have grey or no hair once the your ones have left the nest.

the xasstleader said...

That's classic!!

Maybe you could bring the pretty "creek glass" to our next book club. I would love to see it. Did the girls pick any of the interesing "creek weed" to put into the "creek glass"??? Maybe you could bring that too?? Love your stuff!!! I have a great visual of the toddler's chubby little hand swiping it off you desk.

Thanks for sharing. L

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Your awesomeness was featured:

Anonymous said...

That Anti-Smoking Campaign of Fear is real, ya'll!
My daughter once harangued me all the way home from the grocery store because I wasn't calling 911 to report the teenage boys smoking in the parking lot. CIGARETTES, they were smoking cigarettes. She was totally incensed, horrified at those scofflaw adolescents and their illegal, underage transgressions.
My sweet daughter morphed into a narc. Or Jerry Falwell. It was scary.
She's 16 now. She's over it.

Miss Britt said...

How is that a story about a pipe manages to be both hysterical AND beautifully written at the same time?


Biddy said...


oh my gracious that's fantastic!

then again, i won't mention what the um creek glass looks like to me!

Anonymous said...

I cannot even count the number of hours I spent at the creek as a kid. Back in those days our treasure finds were sparkly whisky bottles.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Yeah, that thing is going to show up when you really don't want it to.

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