The sun is not long from sinking below the horizon-line to the west. Dusk will begin as shadows steal across the water, swallowing the light. Darkness comes to the river valley bottom to top, beginning at the lowest points and moving upward, from stream surface to the stark crowns of the tallest sycamores. That's night's way, to pour in slowly like black oil into a long trough.
A few minutes ago everything was gold—light, sky, moving water. I made a photo. What the image doesn't show is that the water is high, up maybe eight feet from its normal level. High and running fast. A fool's gold river.
Earlier today, while I was working at my desk, I looked up and out the window at the moving river fifty feet from where I sat. As I was watching, a cow floated past. I've watched lots of things float by over the years—countless huge logs and fresh-toppled trees; barrels and buckets; bottles by the gazillion; bright plastic toys of all sorts and every type of ball imaginable; washers and dryers; a car or two; sheds, dog houses, chunks of porches and decks; a red canoe; several dead deer; one dead pig; small dead animals of all sorts, especially dogs and raccoons. One dead person.
But today's cow was a first. I watched it bobbing along, close to the bank, one front leg stuck into the air as if waving a greeting to anyone on shore. In less than a minute the fast current of the fool's gold river had carried the waving cow three hundred yards downstream and around the bend, and I returned to my work.