The Slate River Falls

The Slate River Falls

Time for a river walk today!  Time to get moving and to see an old friend, the Slate River.  We have been friends for years and years and years.

Today, after work, I realized it had been a long time since this old friend and I had connected. 

What memories clamor in as you climb the steep hills and listen to the waters rushing way down below in the fast-moving river.  You think it must have been easier to claw onto roots and trees, hoisting yourself up and down the hills, back in your 20’s when you first met this river.

And do you remember all those years when the children clamoured up and down, as well?  And you held your breath for fear they would tumble down the way-too-dangerous hill and into the rocks below?  And how you chided yourself for being a bad parent, allowing all this? 

Can you tell how steep this hill really is?

Can you tell how steep this hill really is?

And remember how the children laughed and pranced like deer, never falling?  And how you, even then, walked so carefully and slowly, planting your feet just so. 

Do you remember the time (oh dear, where is your internal censor when she should appear?) when you took a couple friends on a hike up the river on a hot, hot summer day.  You were much younger and crazier then, you’re sure.  How everyone wanted to go swimming, but no one had the foresight of bathing suits.  So you decided skinny dipping was allowable, just this one time…and how lovely the river felt, all rushing and soothing and inspiring.

And then, drying off and getting back into your clothes, you looked up to see two men with hunting guns staring down at the three of you?  It was almost like a nightmare moment…men with guns!…but then they smiled and passed without comment and you remembered to breathe again and decided skinny dipping should really be done in some more secluded place.  Or at night.

More falls

More falls

Memories keep rushing in like precious jewels.  Finding the eagle’s nest, way, way back at a fold in the river, all those years ago when eagles fascinated you more than anything.  Sitting oh so quietly beneath the nest, watching the mama and daddy fly in and out.  Finding eagle feathers scattered like stars against the earth.  Bringing some Native American friends back to this sacred place.

Lovely light gleaming in river

Lovely light gleaming in river

Another memory of river walks with Teva sandals, right down in the river, tripping over stones and rocks and trying to stay upright.  Maybe not always staying upright.  Splashing along curve after curve, climbing out to portage around deep holes.  Loving the language the river speaks, its constant rush and roar and song.

Like liquid diamonds...

Like liquid diamonds...

Today, it was hot.  Sweat pouring, panting.  Even though it’s easy to walk five or six miles on flat land without too much challenge, it’s way strenuous to climb hills up and down.  I paused to stand still, often.  On the way up the river my Mind  filled with thoughts and stories that carried on like a loud off-key orchestra, trying to compete with the river’s music.  On the way down the river, mostly Stillness and Silence remained.  The river sang loud then.

Feet remember river...does river remember feet?

Feet remember river...does river remember feet?

The water felt surprisingly warm.  Not warm like bathwater, but warm like river water.  It felt invigorating yet soothing.  How refreshing to sit for a long spell beneath the old eagles’ nest.  A few thimbleberries and tiny blueberries provided sustenance.  It might be nice to nap beneath the cliffs, but Home called from across the bay.

Red rock cliffs above river

Red rock cliffs above river

I learned something on the way home.  About sound.  About how trees and landscape muffle and change sound.  Walking very slowly, not thinking much, I heard the river singing a new, louder song than before, with a different sound.  How interesting!  And then noticed that this particular sound only existed in a three foot area between a particular grouping of trees.  The landscape became a flute or a whistle or unique musical instrument, playing the song of the river in that particular way in that particular spot.  If you moved a couple feet ahead, the music of the river changed to its original song.  A couple feet behind, the same thing.  But in this small area, the trees and the cliff and the river joined forces to change the cadence of the riverdance.

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