Archive for December, 2009
Although I’m now in Arizona for the winter, I’ll be putting up a few more posts about this year’s journey through the west. There’s just too much good stuff to leap past. There will be some Arizona posts coming up too, but I’m just getting settled here, so it may be a week or two yet.
Growing up, I spent summers on the shores of the Ottawa River – one of the largest rivers in eastern Canada. Over many years, Don and I paddled our canoes on the countless lakes, rivers and creeks of Ontario and Quebec. It may well be the canoehead in me, but when traveling, I am repeatedly drawn to those places where waters flow. By rivers, I usually feel the greatest sense of well-being. Perhaps it’s the sound of waves or water rushing through rocks, or maybe it’s the wildlife that I find there – the mergansers, the herons, the dipper birds, and the deer and river otter. Whatever, it all works together to create those places where I can find peace.
The Siskiyou National Forest of southwest Oregon is where many of my favourite rivers flow. The Rogue, the Chetco, and the north fork of the Smith among others. Visiting in the autumn seems special to me. I know these rivers from several visits made over the past decade. Each time, there have been few or no other people around. Although water levels are lower, and the speed of the flow may be less than at other times of the year, the waters of many lakes and rivers is always less turbid by autumn. The cooler weather often causes the algae to stop growing, and most of the suspended organic matter tends to drop to the stream or lake bed.
I sit by these rivers, watching golden leaves float and spin like tiny rafts, rushing through between rapid-smoothed boulders. Along the shores, the cool, moist autumn air revives mosses and lichens on bark and stone alike. The trees stand silent, like sentinels, clinging to rock as they overarch the rushing waters. From time to time, the shrill, bubbling call of an ouzel ricochets down a narrow mountain canyon. I smile as I watch them dive into the frigid torrent, running and even flying just beneath the surface in their quest for food. Before long, I’m feeling quiet inside – relaxed and composed – and ready to begin moving forward once more