Buck Creek island this summer’s place to be

Driving across the bridge over Buck Creek, you may have noticed a lot of action below on the island near the dam.

Apparently it’s the new in place to chill during this summer’s heat wave.

“We’ve lived here seven years and never seen so many people down here,” said Steve Garner.

He and wife, Kathy, and son, Grayson, were loading life preservers and coolers into their canoe for a half-day trip down Buck Creek and Cahaba River.

“We have been canoeing here since before we moved to Helena — that’s partly why we moved. We swim, eat a picnic lunch and exit down by Alabama Small Boat,” he said.

Mariah and Daniel West strolled baby Audrey down to the island and brought along their children Rowan and Loriahna Brundege.

“We come down to the Farmer’s Market and then over to the waterfall,” said Mariah West. “We have found it is much easier to get our children to eat vegetables if they pick them out themselves. They have enjoyed trying vegetables that are new to them, like the mango squash they discovered at the Farmer’s Market.”

I saw youngsters skipping across the wooden footbridge in anticipation to the island where a colorful patchwork of towels and bobbing floats join waders and splashers every afternoon.

Ian, Hannah and David Dorman said they come here “all the time.”

Ian was just finishing his Egg McMuffin snack when I asked what he enjoyed best about coming here.

He enthusiastically replied he and his siblings have spent a lot of time catching turtles — a sport they have made into a team effort.

“Hannah and David sit on the rocks and spot them, then I swim in and just grab ’em. We have about 30 turtles now at home in cages in our back yard,” Ian said.

He demonstrates with his hands that the shell of the biggest turtle they have seen was more than a foot wide.

“We have a turtle named George,” Hannah piped in, “that we caught here last year before school started, so he is almost a year old now, too. He is still pretty small, though.”

The children also climb up onto the dam and enjoy the rope swing that hangs from a limb over by The Depot.

Ian Dorman was happy to introduce newcomer Bailey Jones to these pleasures; they took off to explore together — as Helena children have done through the years.