Friday, January 1, 2010

WHAT THE RIVER SAID…

Snowflakes the size goose down were floating earthward from an overcast sky when I went outside this morning to make a few photos on this first day of the new year. The light was flat and soft, but the river which hustled along a couple of yards from where I stood was a lively, luminous blue.
It amazes me, sometimes, the colors this river can show—turquoise, jade, copper, gold, bronze, slate, mahogany, amethyst, crimson, burgundy, ebony. I never know what I'll see…or what I'll record when I release the shutter. A river has countless faces. To say it reflects the color of the surrounding light doesn't begin to tell the story. I'm not even sure anymore that it's entirely accurate. Rivers—this one, anyway—seem to have a light of their own.
Sure, available light and the angle at which it strikes the water, not to mention the water's clarity on a given day, all serve to twist and turn and change the kaleidoscope's hue and pattern. But there are times when the connection between sky light and water color seems impossible. I prefer to believe in a chameleon-like revelation of the river's moods, a cause-and-effect glimpse of some watery soul.
I talk to the river. I expect I've mentioned that before. After all, there's that passage in Luke where Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees, talks about the rocks crying out. I figure if stones can shout and wail, rivers ought to at least listen. Maybe mine does, and perhaps that explains the color variations I regularly witness. Perhaps this old river is trying to tell me something, to relate a bit of its story—things learned upstream; hopes for the journey yet to come.
Rivers seem to me the epitome of adventure. I never tire of exploring their moving path, never lose my desire to learn what awaits around yonder bend. Sometimes I allow the current to carry me along. Often I cross to one side or the other. Occasionally I push against the flow and head upstream. Always, however, I'm excited by their mystery.
Time itself is a river—a flowing mystery which sweeps us along on a journey of discovery. Today we began a new page on a new calendar. The old almanac gets put on the shelf and a new one takes its place on the desktop's corner. Between them, they give some shape and sense of the days ahead. But I'll also not forget how the river looked this morning, a lovely shade of blue that seemed happy, optimistic, a blue promising days of adventure and wonder to be discovered.
Yes, calendars and almanacs have their place—but I'm encouraged most by what the river said…

20 comments:

madcobug said...

That is a beautiful shot of the river. I wonder if there are any trout in there. Helen

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ_

The turquoise luminous blue rapid river is spectacular. I really love the hue - and to think I was in awe ofthe green slate color yesterday - the color changes are mysterious and intriguing. I do believe your river speaks in movement, color, stillness, force and passion. Oh, I understand - your river is female in all her glory and surprise - maternal instinct and provisions- life force and honesty - loss and birth - oh yes, a woman of grace and power - beauty and purpose - !!

Great picture and post
Love you
Gail
peace......

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

Helen…

Unfortunately, no. Though it looks "troutish" here, in today's shot, it's really a warmwater stream, with smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill and a half-dozen species of bright-colored sunfish, rock bass, crappie, catfish, carp, suckers, etc. Ohio doesn't have much real trout water…a couple of streams up east along Lake Erie,some stocked fishing in the Mad River watershed. Otherwise, we're a warmwater stream state.

I usually head to Michigan or the Carolina Highlands for my trout fishing.

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

Gail…

Female? You reckon? That could sure explain some things. I've fished and played along this river literally all my life—starting when my father carried my on his shoulders as he waded and fished his way upstream. But I never realized the daily changes, in color and flow, in mood, the river goes through until moving to this streamside cottage.

The river and I are lifelong friends and companions. I hope she likes me as much as I like her…

Gail said...

Grizz-

without a doubt - she does. She likes you VERY very much. :-) I didn't realize this is home to you - Ohio river - from childhood. Knowing that makes every experience you share that much more meaningful to read about. I have goose bumps.

Love Gail
peace.....

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

Gail…

I was born and raised quite near here in a house my father built. Dad was a fisherman, fly tyer, excellent field botanist, and all-around outdoorsman. (He also taught school, built guitars, did fine woodworking, and finish carpentry.)

Mom and Dad often spent any spare time along streams. Dad fished, Mom looked for wildflowers. Naturally, they carried me along. When I was about three, Dad began taking me fishing. He liked to stream fish for smallmouth bass. He would put me atop his shoulders, tell me to hang on, and started wading upstream, fly casting or fishing with a spin-cast rig. I had a perfect seat and view, and learned how to stream fish long before I got my first cane pole. (Dad took me squirrel hunting the same way, on his shoulders—though it scared me when the gun went off so he'd whisper and tell me to get ready and cover my ears.)

There was a creek about ten miles from here that was Dad's favorite water; this river was second. By the time I was eight or nine, Dad and I would come here and he'd go one way fishing while I went another. I tended, then, to like to stay more in one place. Plus I only had a cane pole and wasn't able to cast, so I bait-fished the pools. And the water was too deep for me to wade in many of the riffles. Dad always kept a close eye on me, though. But this river has run through my life since my birth. The creek I mentioned came first, and more frequently, but this river was a close second. And as I got older, I began to fish it every chance I got, or float it in a canoe for fun—winter, spring, summer, fall. I've waded or walked beside it some sixty miles, from where it rises to where it empties into a bigger river.

I know this river…and now, I know it even more intimately.

Gail said...

Oh Grizz-

I hung on your every word, every vivid memory, sight, sound, feeling, reason, lesson learned, challenge met. I love the image of your Mom gathering wild flowers - and you atop your Dad's shoulders - I am not sure why I am crying - they are tears of good feelings with and for you and all that you are because of all that they gave you - taught you - how they loved you - I feel it so intently. I love that you are 'home' - surrounded by such memories - and that the rivers journey is also your own - and continues to flow through you, with you, near you and I believe, in part, because of you it IS alive.

Love Gail
peace......

KGMom said...

I bet you loved Huck Finn, as a kid--did you ever dream of going on a river trip adventure?

Wanda said...

You might like to know that my husband read and commented to me about this moving post. He was born just a few miles from where we live, we don't live by our hometown river, but very near, it's just over the hill. His childhood home is just as near also. Your post, for us was a wonderful way to begin this new year and celebrate "time".
Your photo was very special!

Bernie said...

I love this photo and can see why you love it so, it's obvious it is a part of who you are.....Somehow I feel you are right where you are surpose to be.....as I am and it is a peaceful, wonderful feeling.
Have a great day.....:-) Hugs

Grizz, does the river ever freeze over during the winter?

Tramp said...

There's no river or stream on my walks with my dog (Lady). However I confess to listening to the trees in the forest. They speak in different ways: the noise of the wind rustling the leaves, so different with different types; the crackle of the dry twigs; the drip of rain from above...
However let's not be melancholic about this, who was it who said that we have no right to philosophise unless we do it to make us happier?

Jayne said...

Beautiful shot of your river there. Glad it talks to you and that you can hear it. :c)

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

Gail…

You are certainly right about my parents loving me. The older I get, the more apparent it becomes just how exceptional and devoted and sacrificial their love for me was. I may have had the two best parents, ever, in the entire world. What a blessing! I wouldn't trade them and the memories for a billion dollars.

I would say that "home" in the sense you mean is more ephemeral. Home isn't a building, but a point in time and, especially, people. I've done so much traveling over the years, spending a night or a week in a motel or lodge, a camp in the northwoods, on a boat or in a motor home or trailer, in the home of folks I'd met until only the hour before. I can make myself "at home" almost anywhere.

But if I'm being honest here, as much as I enjoy where I live, with its lifelong familiarity, I'm not sure any place can ever supersede where I grew up amid family.

Don't get me wrong…I love my riverside cottage, and love with all my heart the lady I now share it with. I am not discontent. I like what I do, and try to be the best me I can manage, in all aspects of my life, each and every day. But there's also and always a sense of longing for that comfort and security of childhood—perhaps an innocence—a wish to again know the deep intimacy and warmth, the milieu.

One other point—I don't think the river is alive because of me, though I may be alive because of this river. It gives me something I need desperately, each and every day….

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

KGMom…

Oh, yes, my father brought home and gave me copies of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn when I was about eight or nine years old. It was probably luck for everyone that it was mid-winter, otherwise I might have set off immediately for my own adventures on a raft.

There are two things I've always wanted to do in life…walk the Appalachian Trail, and float a long river. Re. the latter, it doesn't necessarily need be the Mississippi. In fact, the Mississippi may be overdone, almost a cliché. I'm thinking more the Ohio, although where I now live, I could step into a canoe in front of the cottage and paddle all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. But what I'd prefer is to have a small pontoon boat with a shelter big enough for sleeping…and to let the river set the pace; float rather than paddle—relax, observe, ruminate.

By the way, did you ever read the books by Harlan Hubbard? Hubbard, an artist, and Anna, his wife, built a sort of houseboat (no motor, just a slow float) in 1944 and traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi, ending their trip about 1951 in the Louisiana bayous. I think you'd like "Shantyboat" as it's a nice mix of adventure, history, art, and rural life.

Somewhere between Huck's raft and the Hubbards' shantyboat is my dream.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Scribe - I will second that. Of course rivers talk - they talk such a lot of sense that one only needs to stand and watch them for a while to get anything into proportion. Welcome back river. I enjoyed your Advent verses very much indeed, but I did miss that river. Lovely to see it again and for it to be such a lovely clear blue. Happy New Year to you all.

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

Wanda…

I think that's really wonderful. I'm glad he read and enjoyed the post. That you both did. Roots are as important for people as they are for plants, drawing nourishment for life in direct proportion to the depth they go and the richness of the soil.

I've met a lot of interesting folks over the years. But often, the most interesting and content ones were those who carved their life from a small, beloved corner—a town or village, a farm or ranch, maybe just the head of a particular hollow or the shores of a backwoods lake. A smaller, more restricted territory, but huge because it contained their world, more than sufficient for their lives, with plenty of space left over for friends and family and happiness.

On almost every front, our culture teaches us to want more—a bigger house, fancier car, larger TV. If we just spend more, they say, buy more stuff, bigger stuff, fancier stuff, then we'll be happy. But happiness comes from how life nourishes us, and we draw that nourishment from deep roots in rich soil—finding and embracing a life that is uniquely ours, where we fit in, where days and nights feel comfortable and good.

You and your husband are exactly where you need to be. You've discovered something many never find in their entire lives…and I think it shows in your posts. You are blessed.

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

Bernie…

I, too, think I'm where I ought to be—at least for now. I'm glad you're content where you are, and happy; peace in life is elusive, and it is a wonderful thing when you find it.

I've never seen the river freeze over completely. Long, slower stretches will; ice from bank-to-bank. But a couple of years ago, when it froze completely in the stretch upstream, for a distance of perhaps a mile-and-a-half, the riffle in the photo, and a narrow channel downstream and at least to the bend, remained open. That's as close to a full freeze-over as I've witnessed.

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

Tramp…

I've never heard that line about philosophising…but I like it. The more I think about it, the more I think it may very well be true—or at least a philosophy re. philosophy.

You're quite perceptive, too, about the sound of wind in leaves. It is different in sound as it passes among different species of trees. Which, of course, makes perfectly logical sense, seeing as how leaves have different sizes, shapes, and textures. But not many pay such close attention. This is one of the oft-overlooked fine points about experiencing the woods.

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

Jayne…

I talk to more inanimate objects and otherwise mute things than a man worried about his mental health might want to admit. Since I don't care how crazy I am, I have no compulsion to keep such secrets.

Yes, you're reading the blog of a man who speaks to trees and stones and rivers, not to mention squirrels and chickadees and fish. Why, I even give smallmouth bass and brook trout a smooch before turning them loose.

How crazy is THAT!

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

Weaver…

Isn't it funny how sitting beside a river for awhile (or the sea, or the edge of a big canyon, or the top of a mountain) can "sort a fellow out," as an old man I knew once put it? A few hours spent walking over a tallgrass prairie can do more to realign the senses and regain perspective than anything I know.

I'm glad you enjoyed the verses—but I'm almost as glad you missed the river reports.