The Rivers that Raised Me.

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About a month ago someone I love very much said something that struck a chord in my soul and I haven’t been able to let it go. He said, “Rivers are the veins of the earth,” and then held out his arms and balled his hands into fists, studying his own veins. That is when I realized there is a river running through all of us. I wrote this as a tribute to the rivers in my life.

Rivers are veins.
Veins of the Earth, veins of life.
Pumping water from high mountain peaks out to the oceans below.
Providing the steady life force for millions of species.

Myself.
Raised on the shores.
Churned in the bowels of rapids.
Respect. Fear. Awe. Love.
Fluidity. Growth. Movement.
The wild places.
Wild faces.

Mornings when the sun would sear through my sleeping bag,
hot, sweating.
I’m awake.
Mom shaking the sides of the tent.
“Breakfast is ready, you’re going to miss it.”
But I don’t want to move.

Mornings when the sun would hit my eyelids,
tucked down in the duck.
I’d peek over the edge, convince myself to help with breakfast.
Stuff my sleeping bag so I couldn’t crawl back in.
Escape quietly so I was the first kid awake.
Handing dry bags to Dad for rigging.
Yelling, “LAST CALL GROOVER!”

Mornings when I swore I’d lost my pillow to the river.
The steady lap of current kissing the raft.
Colder on the river,
but at least we beat the heat at night.
Starting the coffee.
Finessing the kitchen box back into place.
Setting the biggest dry bag just right for a rowing back rest.

Mornings when we roll over to light the coffee.
A precious 30 more minutes of lying in the middle of the kitchen.
No clients. Sometimes wolves.
Eggs getting close. Growing ever so louder,
slamming dry box lids and clinking spatulas forcefully
on the sides of the dutchie.
The steady approach of hungry clients.


Middle, South, North Fork of the Flathead,
Main Salmon,
San Juan,
Yampa,
Owyhee,
Payette,
Snake,
South Fork of the Boise,
Green River, Deso/Gray,
Upper Colorado River,
Colorado River through the Grand Canyon,
Trinity,
these waters have soaked my dry skin and
tickled my cracked feet.

Their hornets have chased me around camp,
sand kicked into the salsa.
Hornets squished into my hair,
spiders frantically brushed off pillows and sleeves.
Bug nets draped over hats,
mosquitoes still humming in your ear,
biting through your leggings.
Toads find their way onto chests,
books dropped from hands to meet new friends.
Sawyer beetles clamped onto t-shirts,
hiding in the arms of drysuits.
Spastic body movements to get them off.
“I swear you would run in front of a moving train to get away from a bee,”
mom says.


Carefully wading over mossy rocks,
butterflies slamming into the walls of my stomach.
Rapids.
Navigation.
Bubble lines.
Tongues.
I had never cried at the sight of a rapid before.
Even in the years following our flip when I was 5.

Along came Lava.
“THERE IS NO BUBBLE LINE,”
I sobbed to anyone who would listen.
Luckily a passenger that time.
Angry waves crashing,
boat sideways, dad only has control of one oar.
The Grand.
A bloody nose every day.
Fiery day grooves,
slot canyons galore.
Muddy waters tanning skin.

Jumping off high bridges that cross
the river so wide,
throwing ourselves from sandstone cliffs.
Duckie slip-n-slides and
“rock the duckie,”
talent shows and theme nights.
Mud masks and nude beaches,
precarious groover spots and
questionable camp-made zip lines.

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Broken stoves and charcoal in the sand,
scorched feet and drinking bees out of cans.
Stung mouth, stung throat.
Boiling water spilled all over dad’s toes,
90% of river accidents happen in camp.

I was young and hated
going to bed with sandy feet,
mom carried me back from the river
after a good douse of toes in water.
Nights spent sandwiched between
Mom and Dad
Anna and Katie.
Katie and Ellie.
And countless others.
The river brings people together
in ways no other place can.

Rivers are veins.
Veins of the Earth, veins of life.
Providing safe havens from the steady pace
of a changing world.
Fostering growth of your soul.
Nourishing body and mind.
Rivers are veins.
They run through you
and
they run through me.

wade
Wado the Potato!

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Mom, Kyla and me. 
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Katie and me. 
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Katie, Katie, and me

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Chris and Sam

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Looking down at camp. 
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Lauren and me after the elk night/wolf morning. 
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“Here fishy,” Blake.
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Blake, Jared, AP
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Mike, Me, Katie

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Good ol’Roy 
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Jeff, Lissa, Katie A, Chris
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Jeff and Roy. 
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2 thoughts on “The Rivers that Raised Me.

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