October 12, 1980
Autumn has hit the river with both barrels, a shot gun blast of multi-colored paint, changing what was once green into a smattering of red, yellow and orange.
I’m slightly farther upstream from where I usually stop, and the change gives me a different view of the river, allowing me to see places where Dave and I used to wander as kids – the wider water where the shores are filled with reed and fire weed, wide enough for substantial islands to rise up out of the flat water.
These are deceptive, a fact we learned that night when we tried to camp out on one of them.
We thought we were clever enough when we thought to drop our great down onto the island from the bridge, so it did weigh us down as we scurried there from shore. We even put up a pup tent with a sealed bottom against the wet.
Perhaps the lack of firm soil to pound the pegs into should have told us something. But by that time, we were too tired to think of anything but sleep.
The rain came in the middle of the night, pounding on the tent top with both fists and woke us up.
Dave looked out and reported in a panic, “The island is sinking,” which wasn’t exactly accurate but I got the point.
While we had spent many rainy days near the river in the past, we never took notice how the river rose to cover these islands.
But that night, we took notice, scrambling out to have the soil beneath our feet turn to muck, sucking at each foot fall as we collected the wet tent and moist gear to make the terrible trek through the gushing rush of river water to more solid ground near shore.
Now, more than 20 years later, I still feel wet just thinking about it, and still feel the ach to go back – though Dave never would, my life caught up in mid-stream, changing colors with some strange change of season inside me I can’t explain.