Thursday, September 14, 2017

The One That Got Away

Another  morning with James, or what I did for friendship.

My planned walking companion pulled the weather wimp card when the sky began spitting, so I replaced him in the blink of an eye with fleet-footed Mac. She'd spilled coffee on her white shirt just before coming over and elected not to bother changing because she knew I wouldn't care.

Pshaw, as long as my companion's feet and conversational skills can keep up with me, I care not what state their attire is in.

As always happens when we first get on the pipeline, she expressed her joy in being there, saying she never wanted to lose an appreciation for such a treasure. Is it any reason I love her?

Just as we got to the first major fall, we spotted a loon taking the rapidly moving water like a champ and then craning its neck to look back at what it had just conquered before moving on to the next rapid. I've seen kayakers do the same thing.

We passed a man bathing in the river, rinsing out his clothes and hanging them on nearby branches to dry. Any day is apparently laundry day when you live at the river.

A little further on, we spotted a blue heron through the trees perched on one leg atop a branch, its head tucked so far down  it appeared neck-less. "I'm going to try to get a picture," Mac said, unzipping her pants pocket to retrieve her cell phone.

Cue dramatic music in the background.

Also in that pocket was her car key, her only car key, which inadvertently followed the phone out before dropping into the shallow river bed below. Surprisingly, given the proliferation of marsh grasses and rocks, we could see exactly where the key had landed.

Now getting to it, that was an entirely different matter.

The area just under us was shallow, but there were much deeper waters between us and the key, while the closest ladder to dismount the pipeline was one of those small series of curved rungs with virtually no toe room attached to the pipeline itself.

I headed toward it, with Mac saying how glad she was this had happened with an easygoing friend like me and not someone who wouldn't have seen it for the adventure it was.

The most challenging part of making our way across the water to the other side - which we had to do to avoid the deep areas - was finding footing in an ever-changing river bottom. The silt-y sand wasn't so bad but plenty of rocks (and rusted out beer cans) made themselves known as we attempted to mount them or find a path between them.

It was slow going but also beautiful in that we were getting a view of the river and pipeline few do as we waded through schools of tiny fish and underwater jungles of fallen branches.

The visuals alone were worth the adventure. Heading westward, the river took a bend, providing a view of the water between overhanging branches that appeared to lead to some sort of fairyland or enchanted cove where small scallops of whitewater broke up the surface.

Moments after the key was retrieved, a man walking on the pipeline above spotted us, waved and called down, "I used to do that kind of thing when I was young!"

Rather than let him think we were Dora the Explorer, we stood there thigh deep in the river explaining what had happened and how we'd addressed it. Mac kept patting her zippered pocket to make sure the key was safely there.

"You're my heroes!" he called before continuing his walk while we tried to navigate slippery rocks and slog our way back to put on our shoes and maneuver the curved ladder that was far more difficult to climb up than down.

Righting ourselves once we reached the pipeline, we felt energized and not a little like conquering heroes.

When it comes to friendship and the river James, whiners and the unadventurous need not apply.


  1. not sure if anyone EVER accused you of being a whiner....


  2. I hope not, cw. I have many faults, but I try to avoid that one!