The more time I spend with Bonnie and Clyde near the Lewis and Clark River, the more I consider rivers, the more questions I ask of them, the more metaphors that drift through like fallen alder leaves meandering on a slack summer current.
Today, as I look at the river and the dogs do their dog things, I think about the Oregon rivers in my life. What are their names? What are my river stories? I have 10,000 ocean beach stories, but only a handful of river tales. My Oregon creek stories easily outnumber my river stories. I wonder why that is?
But here I am, standing by the river, hanging out with two great senior dogs, and I shall let the river stories flow, while writing at the TV tray with fresh slug trails on it. Let us see where I drift. Let us see where history takes me.
There was a date with Cindy on the Columbia River, her mom piloting a sail boat, sunburn, ice cold Hamm’s.
There was walking along the Columbia River, collecting limpets galore, and seeing 13 bald eagles.
There was watching the vaping fisherman on a river at dawn.
There was being startled by a wild salmon run in the upper reaches of the Nehalem River.
There was summer floating the Clackamas River with friends and beer in my early 20s, in the mid 80s. No one else was there. We heard only the river and the distant sound of Molly Hatchet playing somewhere upriver.
There was watching a herd of elk ford the Little Nestucca River during my tenure as caretaker of the National Wildlife Refuge.
There was seeing a river otter in the Little Nestucca River while hacking a trail with the young inmates (sexual offenders) from Camp Tillamook and seeing the inmates go quietly wild.
Despite growing up in Oregon City and living near ground that overlooked the Willamette River, I don’t have a single Willamette River story. Not one! I never had a single teacher connect me to the river. No teacher even tried. We never studied it. As an adult, I do have a few romantic walks along the Promenade, the historic path that affords stunning views of the river. Is that an authentic river story? It doesn’t feel like one.
I think the next river in my life will be the Rogue. I will find Zane Gray’s cabin and take it from there. I’ll build my own.
Thought: I’ve got to teach a river or dog-themed writing workshop here and raise funds for the Sanctuary. This place inspires me. So do Bonnie and Clyde.
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