Friday, April 21, 2017

Our "Crick"

Sand Creek on Bronx Road, looking north

On another wet and very soggy day, why not concentrate on water?  As I turned off the highway at the Bronx Road yesterday afternoon, a thought popped into my mind.  

How about some different perspectives of Sand Creek?  

Now, I'm not completely sure about all the proper geographic details about the creek that runs through Sandpoint, emptying into Lake Pend Oreille.

It's hard to find good information about the Sand Crick that runs along HWY 95 south of Pack River, meeting up with "Little Sand Crick."  Little Sand originates from Schweitzer, flows down the mountain in an eastward direction, eventually heading south toward the lake. 

I'm sure there is some history buff out there who knows the geographical details about Sand Creek much better than I. 

What I do know for sure is that Sand Creek has been a good friend ever since I can remember. Heck, I was even born at the old hospital overlooking the crick. 

On our North Boyer farm, we lived within half a mile of the creek, whether we walked north to DeGroots and Delamarters or if we hiked across Mr. Best's hay field and followed various cow paths which wound down the hillside to the "crick." 

Yes, we always called it a "crick" and probably always will except for occasional strings of words that force us to call it a "creek," like "Sand Creek Conoco."  Don't think I've ever referred to the gas station/convenience store as Sand CRICK Conoco."

Who knows why people in different parts of the country alter the correct pronunciation of a word, or who knows for sure WHAT the heck the correct pronunciation happens to be. 

I just know that we're "crick" people, always have been. 

My family and I also have been enriched through the years by Sand CRICK as a place to play, a place to fish, a place to avoid snakes and also, when we ran barefoot in the summers, a place to step carefully to avoid those gooshy, fresh green cow pies warming up our feet, especially between the toes. 

We also knew Sand CRICK as the origin for our local water supply----most of the year, that is. Our dad worked for Sandpoint City Water Department, often some long and irregular hours, keeping the filters running correctly and making sure our drinking water continued to be the best. 

In the summers, when the crick ran low, he would spend more time down near the railroad depot, watching over pumps which brought water to Sandpoint customers out of the lake.

We could always tell a difference in the taste when our drinking water came from the lake, and we were glad when he could switch the flow back to Sand Crick.

And, yes . . . drum roll, please . . . my dad put floride in the water along with chlorine. He wanted us to have good teeth.  He probably would have been strung up by some anti-floridians these days, but we think our teeth have generally served us well. 

Harold also hunted up in the water shed long before Schweitzer ever came on to the scene, so we'd hear stories about his mule deer hunting experiences in the crick's headwaters. 

As friends of the Delamarters and the DeGroots, we also enjoyed another aspect of Sand Creek:  swimming.

I remember in particular a nice sand bar along the creek not too far west of Boyer on the Pennington place where Delamarters lived for years.  Occasionally, we would gather there for an afternoon of swimming and sitting in the sun. 

The area on the DeGroot side of the road was always spooky and definitely "snakey" for me as we'd make our way along the creek through moist dirt trails winding along the side of the crick. I was always sure a snake was looming in the deep grass, so I took quick and well-planned steps, always feeling relieved when we were out of that area.

I think, however, the DeGroot section of Sand Creek off North Boyer had the best fishing holes, and it may have been from one of those holes that my brother Mike caught a 17-inch trout (I think it was a brookie).

I still vividly remember the evening when, after dark, he and Kevin returned from one of their fishing exploits and stood by the front window showing off the big lunker.  That fish stayed in the freezer for years. 

Mike, Kevin and Marianne spent many summer days and long hours riding their bikes from home with fish poles in hand and hanging out at the original Popsicle Stick Bridge.  

Actually, it was just the bridge down by Bottcher's place to us, since the Popsicle Factory, for which the present bridge is named, came years later.

I used a pole with fish line and a hook, usually losing the hook within 15 minutes of my arrival.  Meanwhile, Mike and Kevin had store bought poles, and they were a lot better at hooking on to fish rather than brush limbs.

Beside fishing, we also spent some of our time away from home, assembling roll-yer-own cigarettes and trying to emulate Harold's well-honed efforts with his Bull Durham smokes while telling tales around the dinner table each night. 

Sand Creek, down by Bronx Road served as humor writer Pat McManus' training ground for both his love of the outdoors and his world famous, wacky stories about his childhood exploits.

McManus inspired me to take some my tales played out further down the crick and write a book myself.  In its opening, I suggest that there must be something about the water in Sand Creek which fostered imaginative and somewhat incredible ways for kids to entertain themselves.

The one thing that's really lucky is that McManus is a bit older than the rest of us, for if we'd been contemporaries and met each other somewhere along that crick, who knows what kind of craziness could have occurred.

These days Sand Creek, down along the bike path and underneath the two bridges connecting downtown to the beach area and the depot----it's often referred to as the "jewel" of Sandpoint----in the summer and fall, that is. 

When that crick bed is filled with water, there's no prettier place as far as I'm concerned.

The rest of the time, though, thanks to the lake's water level being lowered prior to each winter, the crick resembles more of a barren mud flat than an exquisite jewel.  

Water is running high these spring days, thanks to all the rain and the thaw, so those mud flats are disappearing under all that water.

Soon, the whole crick will be back to its magnificent and serene glory, for recreationalists and tourists for a few months, but, from now through forever, Sand Crick's  impact on a whole bunch of country bumpkins during their formative years will remain a nostalgic and beloved treasure.   

Looking south on Sand Creek at Bronx Road

Sand Creek at Bronx Road, looking north again

Sand Creek on North Boyer, north of the fairgrounds, looking east. 

Sand Creek on Woodland Drive, looking west.

Sand Creek on Woodland Drive, looking east. 

Sand Creek on Schweitzer Cutoff Road, looking north

Sand Creek on Schweitzer Cut-off Road, looking south

Sand Creek from Popsicle Stick Bridge, looking north

Sand Creek on Popsicle Stick Bridge, looking south

Sand Creek at Popsicle Stick Bridge

Sand Creek along bike path in fall, looking north

Sand Creek on fall day, looking toward Cedar Street Bridge

Sand Creek, looking north on bike path

Sand Creek, looking south near Sand Creek Byway

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Beautiful post, Marianne!