A couple weeks back, I was talking with “The Wiper Fluid Guys” about how I had been fighting the urge to go sit by the river, and the cold was putting a damper on my plans. We’d just gotten a few inches of snow, and we talked of how beautiful the mountains are with the blanket of white. I was kindly nudged to go and feed my soul, and was reminded to bundle up since it’s always colder near the water.
I ventured out to the foothills early the following week after work, when we were having the typical warm before the next storm system moving in. Heading up, the road follows the river and I’ll admit I was a little disheartened that the river was completely snow covered. More than once I thought about turning around, heading home and saving my river visit for the spring. My stubborn streak wouldn’t let me call off my plan, and further west I went. I smiled as I drove through Idledale, remembering parking at the post office to watch the blood moon a few years back. I waved at an elderly man who was walking his old lab, both walking at the same pace in a comfortable rhythm. I wouldn’t quite call it a sleepy town, but it’s close.
A few minutes later I made the left to go down the hill to where I was going to park, and was honestly surprised to see that there were only five other cars. As I changed my shoes, in anticipation of mud from the recent snow, I silently gave thanks for having one of my favorite places to settle my spirit so close to home. The sounds of the river were still present, though definitely subdued as there were inches of snow covering the surface. I headed west on the path, my feet knowing exactly where to go, while my mind wandered and my eyes took in the surroundings.
The trees were brown but no longer coated in a layer of snow, and if you looked closely, there was a hint of green on the branches once again. The underbrush was mostly covered still, except for places that spent most of their days getting warmed by the sun. I veered off the main trail to go down by a little eddy, and I was pleased to be able to see the river in spots. A little grey bird flew down and landed atop the snow, perched right near the edge, looking down at the river as well. I nodded to them, and continued on my path.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve gone up there, and I could likely find my favorite place to sit by the river with my eyes closed. I’ve sat upon that rock and contemplated life and death, love and loss, I’ve searched for my purpose and I’ve lit a candle in a mason jar to say my farewells to friends and family when I couldn’t join others in a send off. The sound of the river grew clearer as I approached what has been long dubbed “my rock”. Heading down the embankment, and looking out at the sprawling water, I smiled at the sight before me. There were areas that had snow and ice forming bridges between rocks and bits of earth that will be obscured by the water once the spring melt begins. The water was flowing with a decent speed, splashing and crashing around the rocks as it made its way downstream.
My rock was in the afternoon sun, warm and dry, and I worked on getting settled. As I sat that day, I realized I’d left my notebook in my car, which meant my plan to pour out my thoughts was not going to come to fruition. I thought about going back to my car, it’s not a far journey, but I knew that the sunlight would be waning.
Instead I closed my eyes, took a deep breath while feeling the sun on my face and listened. There was the rush of the water over the rocks, the bubbling of water coming up from beneath the ice and the splash and crash of drops as they rejoined the river after becoming airborne. I kept my eyes closed, until my racing thoughts slowed, and it seemed like forever. There was a gentle breeze blowing that was cool already, and was amplified coming over the river.
When I finally opened my eyes, everything seemed so bright. The sun was lower in the sky, but still shining directly at me, while also reflecting off of the water and the snow. It took a couple of blinks to get my eyes adjusted. With a quiet mind and an adjusting perspective, I looked once again at what was before me. There was beauty; there was power, growth, metamorphosis, simplicity and chaos.
The water was definitely lower than it will be in a couple of months, and with that in mind, things sounded differently and the water took on new paths. There seemed to be more turbulence to the river, or at least that section of it. Where water would easily flow over rocks soon, it had to dance around and through currently. That observation got me thinking because I love the sounds of a river. It’s the rocks, the shifts in the land, and the bends of the banks help to make the sounds I love.
The obstacles enhance the beauty… wow, talk about a mind-blowing thought. I’ve long talked of ripples and the affects we can have on people, yet I never took that train of thought one step deeper to think of the things that cause other deviations in the flow. I love it when dots get connected like that, and they might not have been, had I remembered to bring my notebook. Magic.
A large part of why I was drawn to go sit by the river in the first place was due to the fact that there was turbulence in my own world. Things were big and scary, and the weight of all the things was almost crushing. My obstacles were like boulders in the river; I was trying to flow and kept crashing against them at every turn. What had been a maddening effort was looked at from a new perspective, for if I could find the beauty in the river’s current state, how could I apply that to my life? There was certainly opportunity for growth and metamorphosis, a chance to foster deeper connections, support from both likely and unlikely places, and a whole lot of chaos. In all of that, there was also great power to create something good, to be a catalyst; and that was beautiful in itself.
Things are better than they were a couple weeks ago, and I am grateful. I’m doing my best to keep in mind that everything is always a work in progress. I keep focusing on the growth, on the forward movement, on the dance around the obstacles. There is beauty, a boatload of it, as I watch those I love bloom. I’m lending grace, to myself and others, and I know that on the days that I need reminding, the river is 20 minutes from home.
Go with the flow, even in the snow,