My daughter writes on her Father’s Day card, “Thanks for baptizing me in the stream and planting the seed of nature-love in my soul.” Wow. I am a lucky man. She’s almost fifty now. And I’d almost forgotten that I did that, in my young, gung-ho, utopian-aspirational days. My wife and I were in our twenties, the sixties were over but just barely. The sixties were trying to figure out what comes next, what to turn into, and we had bought a place in the country, a run-down house, which looked all right to us. We bought it, whether consciously or unconsciously I can’t remember, because it had a stream running beside it — a house with a stream, what more could you want? We already had our daughter, and during our first summer in the house our son was born. Just a little ways downstream there was a waterfall, a cascade running down sloping bedrock shale into a beautiful pool, not deep enough to swim in but knee-deep, the water making a fairly loud sound as it spilled in. Small cliffs on either side of the gully. And it seemed to us that this would be a fine place to baptize the kids. I had no experience in baptizing, no credentials other than a master’s degree in English. But we did not put a lot of stock in experience or credentials then, not to mention institutional religion. Do it yourself, that was the spirit. A little presumptuous? I guess so. But apparently my baptizing skills were better than my carpentry skills, or my maple-sugar-making skills, or my skills at so many other things I failed at — because she turned out all right. A really fine person, in fact, with an enthusiasm for life that everybody notices — she who was a toddler I held in my arms when I put a handful of stream water on her head and said a few inspirational words that are too embarrassing to repeat here now. And my son, a tiny baby in my wife’s arms, probably asleep — he turned out well, too. I can hardly believe what a patient, good-humored guy he is — a much better specimen of a human being than his father, without a doubt. Whatever else baptism is supposed to accomplish, apparently our homegrown, slightly rebellious, institution-scorning, fresh-air, warm-sunny-day, waterfall version didn’t do any harm. Miracle of miracles, good, sane, solid people. When they were fifteen and twelve, their sister came along, and baptizing was no longer part of our priorities or repertoire, so she’s had to get along without one. And she seems to have managed very well. She’s a speech therapist, for God’s sake, a quiet, graceful woman moving through the world. Maybe it was all those camping trips we took her on. She spent a lot of time paddling around big lakes. In any case, I’d almost forgotten that baptism day. There’s a photo. Did we know what we were doing? We were young, with kids in our arms, standing knee-deep in the pool at the foot of the waterfall, smiling.