Taking a break during the hot part of the day. Jasper and I are packing up for the Middle Fork. We leave tomorrow morning. Gear boat is on the trailer, the Sotar patiently waiting its turn until the cooler is packed in the evening. It is jumping with excitement…and so am I. I love water. I love slow water to float in, fast water to float on. I dip my head in creeks on long summer hikes/bike rides….and I’m always looking for a swimming hole. The river has been a metaphor for my life. “Keep your feet firmly planted in the flow,” a phrase that I bring to mind when I’m feeling off kilter or off-balance. I dream about rivers, and even had a series where I knew it was the river I died in. Big water still freaks me out a bit. I treat it with the utmost respect. We leave tomorrow for the river. In many ways, I feel like I am going home.
And yet…I will miss John. He owns a bike store. Hard to take a week off in the middle of the summer. He will stay on dry land. He’ll ride his mountain bike, he’ll eat ice cream, he’ll cook for his old dog, and he might get caught up on a few home chores. When folks that have not met him yet ask, “What is he like?”…the word that comes to my mind is “solid”. That may not seem like a term of endearment, but I’ve given it a lot of thought lately, and I think it is.
Solid does not refer to the fact that he is almost twice my size. Though that is quite evident when we start heading downhill on bikes, and I definitely plan to take advantage of that when it comes time to haul loads while backpacking. Solid does not mean that he had a perfectly stable childhood and no teenage/young adult angst, but it does mean he is grateful for what he had, the lessons he has learned, and takes responsibility for his own life and happiness. Solid doesn’t mean he is set financially for generations to come, but it does infer that he lives within his means and takes care of that which he owns or loves. He is steady in his passions and his compassion, and he is a very loyal friend. Solid doesn’t mean being stuck and set in his ways, but there is a sense of self-awareness and self-care that I find very calming as I navigate this next unknown bend in my river.
When a river runs over rock….wonderful things happen. Over time, the rocks are worn smooth, all the jagged edges are gone. When a rock tumbles into a river, rapids are formed. Waves to play in, eddies for fish to hide in, holes to add excitement. A river could not be a river without the liquid AND the solid. So, I go to the river tomorrow. I am excited…and a little nervous. I will sit on the solid banks at the end of the day, and watch the water slide on by. I feel firmly planted in the flow. And, I am very thankful for the solid midwestern boy in my life.