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Thursday, February 07, 2013

On being made of water.

The Missouri River Bridge in Pierre, late summer and mid-winter, taken from the same location. (click through to see larger)

I am a dedicated dilettante of rivers, if such a thing can exist: I don't want to swim or fish in them, ski or drive speedboats on them, sail or row on them (though as a schoolboy I rowed in a four, the most arduous exercise I have ever taken); I don't want to track them to their source or study their ecology. I simply want to lean on a railing and look at them. The water acts as a narcotic, allowing the mind to drift with the current, or float on a seemingly motionless surface, or rise like mist in the morning light. I'm not asking the water to wash away my sins, but rather to float my anxieties away. I can only speak for myself, but streams, no matter how brilliant or exhilarating, do not fulfill this therapeutic function; it takes a large river, a mighty body of water, to induce this moment of release. - pg 56-57, Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota by Fraser Harrison.

You know how sometimes I find a quote that describes you perfectly? This is me. I didn't inherit many of my dad's habits or personality traits, but I could look at a river all day.  I've mentioned before that my family spent a lot of time on the Tennessee River. We lived a short block and a half from the boat launch, and went out in the boat more days than we didn't. I spent much of every summer on the river until my mid-teens. We named our cat after the boat launch. We'd haul our stuff out and camp for two weeks at a time, on a island. We'd load up and eat dinner on the river after school. (It will surprise no one that I often took two books with me on these short trips. What if I finished one??) Even now, I can't go back home without at least a short drive-by. Yep, there's the river, still there. My youngest brother is much the same way.
The Bug and I, in a not entirely flattering picture, hanging out in the Tennessee River, 2009.

One of the reasons we are so looking forward to moving (should we ever actually move!) is that the house we are moving into is a block from the Missouri River. We can walk to Gryffindor Griffin park and swim (and read).
What Alice Forgot at the beach.
The Princess, Griffin Park, 2012

We can hop on the bike path and ride all the way to the bridge, if we wanted to. I can take Scout for an evening jog. When the kids are making us insane, we can slip out and stare at the water.

May 14. The sandbox overlooks the Missouri river.

The Princess, overlooking the Missouri River, Griffin Park, 2012. (One of my favorite pictures ever!)

June. Sprinklers at the park.

The Princess and the Bug, Griffin Park, 2012.

Sometimes, you find that an author seems to be talking directly to you, as Harrison is here. I feel the water in my soul (too weird for you?)  I feel like the Tennessee River, the Gulf of Mexico (I went to high school in Mobile, the ocean works for me as well as a river), and now the Missouri River are vital parts of me. When choosing a vacation spot, I will nearly always choose the beach. Any beach. I could literally sit and watch the water for hours.  Mike and I dream of renting a houseboat and floating down the Mississippi River. (Probably sans kids, nothing would kill the peace like trying to keep your children from drowning.) I could be completely happy floating in silence. Or watching in silence. The river doesn't need conversation.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to dream about my next vacation.

Picturing Pierre, take two

While this post is very much about Pierre, the point of the post is the water. I'm tagging it with this so I can find it later!


  1. I hope you get to live on the water one day.

  2. Lovely post, Lisa. I think a lot of people--myself included, share that same kind of connection to water, especially if they've spent their childhood near rivers, lakes, bays or oceans. Mine is with the Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound near the North Fork of Long Island, NY. We have a small river system that flows through the NJ suburb we live in now.. I wonder if my girls will fell a connection to small rivers when they're grown.

    I hope you get to live on the shores of the river one day, too. :)

  3. This is a beautiful post, Lisa. I have a deep connection to water as well. I grew up in southern Minnesota and we spent hours skiing, fishing, drifting, reading the paper-just being with the water. I also generally took more than one book for the same reason. I feel sad that my kids will not have the same connection-my husband is not a boater nor do we have the money to have a boat. For me it was a lovely way to grow up. We also traveled with our boat and camped on islands in the Mississippi every summer. Thanks for taking me back there.

  4. Not weird at all! I love to be around water and I have never lived near a body of water so I can well imagine how growing up next to a river would become a part of who you are.


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