There were several people standing on the shore when we beached the kayak and canoe. We joined them, standing with our feet in the cool, shallow water of Rush Creek where is came gurgling over its stone bed out of the forest and flowed into the bath-water of the Buffalo River.
Time passed, and no bus arrived. More time passed, and the crowd grew, and people started wandering up to the top of the hill instead of waiting by the river. Eventually we were the last ones standing in the creek, so we too left the riverbank and walked up the hill.
As we were sitting in the shade of the pavilion at the top, somehow the conversation in one of the other families turned to frogs -- a pet albino frog they once had.
What's that? said the youngest kid in the family. He was maybe 8
What's what? his mother asked.
What you said.
You mean albino? somebody else asked him.
Yeah. Albino. What's that mean?
It means white, his mother said.
The boy was silent for just a moment and then asked,
There was stunned silence under the pavilion. Everyone knew what he was asking, but no one said a thing.
Mama, he said.
Am I albino?
No you are not, she quipped, no so much in an angry tone but more
as an act of desperation. She wanted the conversation to end.
But you said it means white, the boy continued.
It does, she said.
Like the white on this here T-shirt.
He didn't take the bait and continued with his previous line of questioning.
But mama, he said.
You told me I'm white, so why am I not
She snapped his name at him. I chuckled out loud. So did everyone else within ear-shot. His sister turned to look at me, perhaps to gauge my reaction. And the conversation evidently was over.
Rush Creek landing
Buffalo National River, NW Arkansas
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