‘Creek don’t rise’ not about water

Published 2:15 am Saturday, August 31, 2013

It amazes me how a few words can bring vivid memories to mind.

A few days ago when a friend left my house, she said, “The Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll see you at church Sunday.” They were appropriate parting words given all the rain we have experienced this summer.

I thought of my fun-loving uncle who said something similar when he would leave my grandparents’ house after a Sunday visit. Back then, I always got a clear picture in mind of the creek that spilled over in our little sawmill community following several rainy days. It overflowed the banks, lapped at the bridge and covered the road. Sometimes it poured onto the porches of the two rows of mining camp houses and trickled inside them, forcing residents to evacuate. When that happened, our school bus was rerouted onto a hilly, curving road that made our journey twice as far. Several times, I was on board when the bus driver headed toward the bridge in hopes of crossing, and then had to take the alternate route. It was not a pretty sight when the muddy water covered the banks and edged inches above the bridge. When the water receded, trees and bushes emerged coated with mud.

Through the years every time I used that expression or heard someone else say it, I had that picture etched in my head. Then all that changed when my husband was doing some research and came across an item that dispelled that image. It seems that the word “creek” in that saying did not mean a body of water. Instead, it referred to the Creek Indians. Early settlers lived with the threat of an attack by the Creeks.

Ever since that came to my attention, I get two impressions when I hear it. The reminder of that overflow of muddy waters where I lived as a child comes first; then a picture of an attack upon defenseless settlers straight from Western movies pops up. Now occasionally when someone says it, I feel the urge to enlighten that person. Sometimes, though, I just nod and smile, keeping that bit of knowledge to myself.

Remembering my uncle’s reference to that saying brought to mind wonderful Sunday visits to my grandparents’ house. One of my vivid memories of my paternal grandmother was her use of another old adage. “I knew you were coming. My nose has been itching all morning,” she would say, as we piled out of the car at her house. She always came rushing out to greet us. With her long white hair twisted in a knot on the back of her head and an apron tied over a neat housedress, she met us with outstretched arms. She hugged us all and planted kisses on our cheeks. It was such a happy time for me, an only child. I knew that before long the house would overflow with aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of whom would receive the same warm greeting.