Ever since I was a boy, I loved the water. Having grown up in south Mississippi, I was a frequent visitor to the creeks there. When I was small, and not every one had an indoor bathroom, we would sometimes take a bar of soap to the creek to bathe in the evening before it got dark. The photo above is a picture of Black Creek. In south Mississippi, the creeks are the color of iced tea due to the tannins formed when leaf material falls into the water. Many are spring fed with cold clear spring water and are very cool even in the summer time. As a teen we waded up Little Black Creek until we found a bend where the water formed a deep hole and the creek was wide. We dove until we were certain no logs were on the bottom or other impediments to diving, then we fashioned a diving board with two, 2 x 12's we packed in with us. It was secluded and unknown to the public. We took our girlfriends there to swim and have picnics (always in a group) to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. We cooled watermelons in citrus bags steaked out in the cool waters.
This painting depicts a grist mill on a creek somewhere other than Mississippi, I suspect, but it is representative of another favorite swimming hole near my grandparents home. It was called the mill tail. An old grist mill once stood on the location, but it was long gone and only the cement base remained to form a dam. The water flowed over the top and deepened the creek below. It was the perfect place to spend a hot summer afternoon. I enjoyed that first dive into the reddish waters that momentarily took my breath away and eventually made my lips turn blue.
These creeks probably didn't meet the minimum safety requirements for a government approved swimming hole, but somehow we survived the experience. I hope kids today are having the same experience in a creek somewhere.
James Dent. A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.