Yesterday was a wonderful, slow, autumn Sunday. As there was nothing urgent taking place in the afternoon we decided it would be a good time to take a little road trip. My husband had a couple ideas of places to go and we picked one that brought back a lot of memories.
The place we decided to head for was a spot that we used to visit a lot as teenagers……the Boyden Pit. Back when we were in high school it was the place to be on a hot summer afternoon. After hot sweaty mornings of walking beans it was a great place to go and cool off.
The beach was small and did not have the greatest sand, but it was always full of teenagers, moms with little kids and was loud with the sound of laughter, water splashing, and the tunes belting out of multiple battery operated radios. It was the perfect place to see others and to be seen.
All we needed for a great afternoon was a beach towel, a radio, a few snacks, some pop, and as many friends as we could round up. We didn’t worry about sunscreen…..skin cancer was not on the radar that decade. In fact we would use baby oil to get the great dark tan that we all coveted.
There weren’t any life guards on this beach and we were all responsible for our own safety. We did make sure to swim in pairs if we were swimming out to “the island”. (I am not sure it was really an island but it was on the other side of the pit and seemed to take forever to get there.)
I don’t know the entire history of the Pit. I do know it was a former sand/gravel pit where some company or other dug out the sand and gravel to use in other places. Once they had gotten as much as they wanted the machinery was taken away and water filled the hole that was left. It became a natural place for people to go and cool off on steamy summer days and nights.
There was even a massive cottonwood tree with a rope attached for those who wanted to swing off the cliff, dangle precariously over the water and let go in a timely manner. If you did not let go soon enough you slammed back into the cliff and slid, in an inglorious fashion, down the face of the cliff and into the water.
Later the tree met it’s end when it was sawed down because too many people had hurt themselves. (Our high school Bible teacher ended up having surgery after smashing his heel against that cliff wall.) All that remains of the tree is the weathered stump in the photo above. It was a sad day for those who loved the thrill of flying over the water and plummeting to the water 20 feet below. I never had the urge to attempt that feat after having witnessed the slamming and sliding type of end to a swing on the rope.
It seemed that with the death of the big cottonwood; a lot of changes came to the Pit. Someone drowned and the Pit was closed for a number of years due to insurance issues. The beach that once was alive with shouts and laughter slowly grew over with weeds and small trees. The concrete bath house was torn down and only a non-functional light pole remains to mark it’s location.
Some years back the County took over the Pit area and began the task of turning it into a place where people would once again picnic, fish and camp. It is not the same as it was back in the day I regularly visited it…. there are some things I like better and some memories that are hard to let go.
The beach area is no longer available for swimming as there is no swimming allowed. People now come with their canoes, fishing poles, tents and campers. They come and once again this place is a place for people to spend time together.
The quiet that is this fall season, lays like a blanket over this area. The mowed path that now makes it’s way around the pit is an invitation to take a walk and listen to the leaves rustle in the wind. It is fun to observe the frogs sitting on the rotted logs at the water’s edge and to see the birds flit from tree to tree.
I have a feeling it is the same quiet that held this place way back before it’s years as a gravel pit. It is probably the same quiet that descended when the pit was closed to the public for those many years. It is a quiet that permeates this place and seeps into the soul when you stand quietly at the water’s edge.
The “new” pit is a beautiful, peaceful place. For those who did not come here in the 70’s and 80’s it is probably hard to imagine how noisy it once was. All I have to do is stand on the overgrown beach, close my eyes, and those days once again play out in my mind like scenes from an old movie.
I think I have enjoyed the best of both worlds that make up the life of this place. I have lived the vibrant, noisy memories of my youth spent on this beach and I am also getting to soak in the quiet, soul-nourishing peace that it is now. It is indeed a blessing.
All changes, even the most longed for,
have their melancholy;
for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;
we must die to one life before we can enter another.