Sunday, February 22, 2009

RIVER GREEN

It is cold here beside the river on this February morning. A scant 20 degrees according to the thermometer mounted just outside the dining area window. A good day for building a fire and making a pot of chili, maybe baking a pone of spicy cornbread. Heat in any form will be welcome—whether from the flame-released BTUs of seasoned cordwood in the great room fireplace, or the capsicum heat from cayenne, jalapeños, and habanero peppers in the food. Thirty minutes ago I watched a mink heading upstream on the island across from the cottage. Its coat was the rich dark brown of satiny milk chocolate; the animal’s gait was that curious sinuous humping canter peculiar to weasels, ferrets, otters, ermines, and fishers—all members of the Mustelidae family. The mink was not following the river’s edge, but was finding its route a dozen yards back from the water, on higher ground cluttered with leaves and brush and deadfalls. Hunting, I think, though not for a meal. Rather I suspect the purposeful creature was looking for a mate or perhaps a suitable den site under one of the washed-up log piles or the intricate root-caves of the big sycamores. February to April is the mating season for mink hereabouts, and now is the time to get the ball rolling. So this morning’s mink was likely on a procreative quest. Yesterday’s skift of snow still covers the ground. Perhaps it is this bright white carpet that’s primarily responsible for shifting and changing the light filtering through overcast skies, making the river appear a deep slate green. Whatever the cause, it is a lovely hue—not the green of spring, but the green of mystery and promise. A green which makes me want to launch a canoe and follow the current wherever it may lead. What adventures await around yonder bend? The green water whispers to come and see, to take the chance, to put my faith it in pools and riffles, in the purling prayers it offers when passing over smooth stones, or the quiet sibilance of peaceful affirmation as it glides against a sandy bar. Without doubt the water is numbingly cold—yet within that moving green flow there’s an undeniable warmth. I see it and feel it and know it, as surely as I know anything. This is one of the reasons I’ve been so enamored with rivers and creeks all my life—because no matter how much you learn their ways, regardless of the intimacy achieved, there’s always a paradox. Rivers are like life, possessing a past, present, and future. Never the same, always changing, beguiling and filled with surprise. Today this soft green river calls to me…and just between us, I confess, I’m more than half inclined to listen.

18 comments:

Gail said...

Hi
Beautiful, inspiring photo and beautiful words to define your place in it all - breath taking.

I look out at a pond in front that is fed by a powerful brook that - the sound of which is nature's music....at night, when windows can be wide open the water babbling is a lullaby.

We have a married couple of ducks that have their young here each year - everyone can learn about loyalty in relationships by watching their traditions.

Your world is beautiful - and I am very happy I found your site so I can know and apprciate your magic.

Love Gail
peace.....

giggles said...

You mentioned mink in an earlier post...but my.... How cool!!!!!

Have any idea how many might inhabit your area? (Perhaps enough for a small stole, or maybe just a handwarmer?!) ;-)

Enjoy the day!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I'm glad you enjoy the site and postings, and I appreciate your words.

I'm never quite sure how certain photos come up on different screens and browsers—was that recent cardinal pix too dark, or an off shade of red? Is today's river shot showing the green water? I hope that you—or anyone else—will give me some feedback so that I can adjust if necessary, as best I can.

Again, thank you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

I probably did mention mink somewhere else. They're part of this riverine habitat, and will have their place in these reports.

I wouldn't hold your hopes up on the stole. Survival rate for a mink litter is pretty low.And a lifespan in the wild is perhaps 3-4 years at the outside. It takes a lot of mink skins to make a coat.

How about feral cat?

Raph G. Neckmann said...

'The green of mystery and promise' sounds very beckoning. For me it is the woods that call.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

Woods, too—yes indeed! And misty mountains, and the lonesome north country where loons laugh in the long dusk on crystalline lakes as large as seas. The voice that always calls is that of the wild places, the back-of-beyond, where mine is the only human track on a sandy beach, and the night is spattered with stars.

But like Mole, I can also find adventure in a pastoral stream which flows through familiar territory best shared with friends.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Do you know the Tennyson poem The Brook, Scribe. One verse reads
"At last by Phillip's farm I flow,
To join the brimming river.
Men may come and men may go
But I go on forever."

This is what I think fascinates about rivers - they were here long before we arrived - they are not altered by our being here - they go on after we have gone.

Beautiful writing on your post today.

Gail said...

Hi-

your river is a mysterious slate gray-black. I love it. And the cardinal on your earlier post - vibrant red! I am in awe of your photos.

Love Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

You know, at one time I had and had read a copy of Tennyson's complete poems. But I have no recollection of that particular verse—which might be time and faulty memory, but is more likely due to being too young to appreciate such words and talent. A mistake I need to rectify.

Rivers are water alive, filled with movement and light, ever-changing. They have source and destination, purpose; a history and a future.

To sit beside them or follow their bankside paths is to witness only a small portion of their journey. But ultimately, unless we place ourselves upon their currents, heeding their call to voyage along, their travels are a mystery—a course from source to sea that we may only guess at and wonder about. The invitation is given and the choice is ours, but the rivers will go forever on, regardless.

I'm glad you liked the piece.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Huh! No green to the water? Even double-clicked to full size? Then maybe I need to redo some color settings.

Anyway, thanks for the response. And the kind comment re. the photos themselves. Words and pix, I try and do the best I can on a given day. Sometimes it sorta works.

Hildred and Charles said...

Yes, the water has a beautiful green cast where it reaches me here in the Similkameeen.

And your words are inspiring, - I too am glad I found your site and look forward each day to your posting from the riverside.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Hildred $ Charles…

Thank you for responding about this. And welcome to the riverside!

I'm only mildly capable with this blog and digital publishing business and its possible issues. It only recently occurred to me that other browsers or monitors might not display this stuff the same (told you I didn't know much, right?) and I though I ought to at least ask and maybe try to correct any problems. But if it ain't broke…I don't want to "fix" it, either.

Again, I'm glad you dropped by and I hope you'll visit regularly. I can't promise "inspiring," but I'll try and be worth a quick read.

giggles said...

Oh, ummmmmmmm...cats? I don't think so....a little too close to my heart.... But thanks for the offer.... (I hope they are not too much of a problem for ya.... We did have a problem not too far back, and they came with rabies included! Ugh!)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Naaaah. I like cats and don't mind them mousing around the cottage. I was just yanking your chain. :)

Jenn Jilks said...

Wonderful shot, that shows the green. I know that some of our critters have babies ready fr foraging by the time spring arrives. I didn't know the mink did...does.

I am looking forward to seeing the water open again. Our lake is totally frozen. More that several inches have fallen today. The snowmobiles go back and forth. Still I walked the cats by the lakeshore.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

I appreciate the feedback on the pix.

Mink will be mating through the next 6 weeks or so here, with young coming a bit more than a month beyond that—though the ones that mated early will be born weeks earlier. One interesting fact is that a mink can hold up their gestation period—increasing the length by a week or two, apparently to delay because of bad weather and thus poor hunting, which would make it harder to feed newborns.

Susan said...

What a beautiful post. We live beside a small stream and I like to watch it run, wondering where it's come from and where it's going. It's one of the best things about our little homestead.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Susan…

Right now I'm looking beyond the window at "my" river. The water is changing colors as the early light increases, riffles turning from dawn's pink to gold to sky blue.

A river is a unique natural feature because of it's constant movement. You can't really watch a tree grow in the moment—it takes long chunks of time to notice the change. A bird is moving, or a mink, but in them you see their entirety all at once. Yet a river can never be viewed whole—only in a tiny portion. As it moves past my window it also exists in a thousand other places at the same moment. We can dam it, but the river will simply hesitate long enough to fill our meager basin before moving on.

Rivers allow us to think beyond the box.

Thank you for your nice comments. I'm glad you liked the piece.