i went down to the river tonight, to a spot i haven’t been to in i can’t remember how long. at least 13 years, possibly more. i had the urge to go earlier in the afternoon when the sky was moving between clouds and rain and blue, and it’s feeling like spring because all of the snow is melting in the warm rain. but the clan of the cave bear has a solid grip on me and it took hours to tear myself away. at close to 4:30 i finally said if i’m going to go i have to go now! i was losing the light and that makes the photo-taking much harder. i jumped on my bike and was at the trailhead in 10 minutes. my friends and i used to come here in my late teens and early 20’s, it’s a great swim spot in the summer, but wasn’t our favourite because it’s a little further and not as deep as the other one. i have been craving visiting it for awhile though, i am not sure why over the closer one. maybe because i have recently visited the closer one with dad when i was here two years ago. or maybe because of the feeling of this place. it’s where the river forms a bend and there is a cliff on the opposite side that creates a natural amphitheatre. the cliff overhangs a little and you can swim under it in the summer time. i left my bike at the top and started hiking down, within a minute the trail had turned into a fast flowing creek! i was amazed, i had never seen that here before. the creek eventually turned left and the path turned right. oh to be in the forest, dusk was settling in and there is a mist all over everything right now (i am guessing it is the cold snow evaporating in the warmth of the air, but i could be wrong, it’s still only about 6 degrees celsius here right now). i was grinning as i hurried down the path. times like these are when it’s driven home that this is my home – not the city. the moss was thickly draped on the maples, the mist wrapped around the tapering trunks of the tall firs. at the base of a huge pine i found an assemblage of pinecones. they are white pine, long and thin, and smell spicy and sweet and of the earth. i wish i could translate the smell into these words for you. my hands are sticky with them.
the river is raging right now, it’s about a 10 minute walk down from the trailhead and you can hear it from the top. it has been raining almost non-stop for a couple days and my anticipation was mounting the louder it got. but then as i got closer something didn’t look right. it was too clear through the trees. they had logged. i was stunned.
of course. this is to be expected right? there has always been logging here. this side of the river is private, there are houses and protected areas. but the other side is not. it belongs to the logging companies. there was logging when i moved away 15 years ago and there is logging now. it was only a matter of time. but i am naive, perhaps willfully so sometimes. i made the mistake of believing that what i revere and find sacred they must also. clearly. they must see.
the shock shifted my feelings, but i was still grateful to be there. the river is normally greeny-blue in colour, but with the rains it was a raging brown. is this also though because of the lack of trees? i have been down in the winter before and remember it being clear, but it has been so long, i don’t know what normal is for here anymore. in the summer there is also a rock beach, but the high water levels have submerged that. a difference for me in coming down to the river this time is a different set of eyes. when i lived here last i was only at the beginning of my canoe-life. i had barely done any trips and definitely none of them were on rivers with rapids. i had never looked at this river with paddling eyes before, and that is partly because it just doesn’t lend itself to that. in the summer it is very shallow in very many places and if you tried to canoe it would be more dragging and lifting than anything. but right now the current is too strong to swim, there are haystacks and swirling eddies galore. i love watching eddies, they fascinate me, seeing where they break off from the main current and turn back in towards themselves. what a joy to look at this river i love with new eyes.