Oregon Tavern Age: Revenge of the Watershed

I sat in a booth of an OTA joint called the Sextant Bar & Galley that overlooked the mighty Columbia River. To think that Woody Guthrie wrote a classic folk song imploring it to roll on and turn darkness to light. It was from an era less than century ago when humans did everything in their power to harness the river, and thereby wrecking its ecology and spirituality in the name of progress.

Will that wreckage ever be undone? It will be one day, at least in my novel The Watershed, when the Columbia River Watershed finally has had enough of human degradation and enslavement, and takes its revenge. It’s the book I’ve been gearing up my whole life to write.

The Sextant might be an excellent place to write it.

It was a sunny Sunday around noon. My nerves were shot after a harrowing, $27 visit to an RV show at the Expo Center. Yes, I needed a bracer. The grotesque and gratuitous luxury of some of the RVs repelled me. And to think that I once lived in a 44-year old Winnebago with an 8-Track player! It was union made, too. Those were the days.

I sipped a craft malt liquor and inspected the Sextant’s interior. Its almost total lack of nautical/maritime decor mystified me. There was nothing but a couple of fake porthole windows and a helm on the wall.

A blue heron flew over the river. A couple of sail boats plied the channel. An OTA man behind me ordered the French Toast Supreme.

A cormorant flew past the window. Oh the dreaded cormorant, bane of the Columbia River salmon fishermen because the birds eat all the fake hatchery salmon, which accounts for 90 percent of all the salmon in the watershed.

When The Watershed comes out, the cormorant, an avian species slaughtered by shotguns on the order of fisheries biologists, will finally exact their revenge.

I’ve been excited for years to write this novel, so why haven’t I started?

Perhaps I was in the Sextant at that very moment.