Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I don't know if I can explain...

...but that's never stopped me from trying.

So, I was readin through the "Opinion" page in the
  • PJStar
  • last night and I stumbled across this particularly profound one:

    "I will admit right off that I do not have a college degree in the science of hydrology, but through years of study on my own I believe I have come with the solution to the woes and tribulations caused by the periodic flooding of our rivers, creeks and streams.

    Get a pencil and paper. Ready? Write this valuable flood prevention information down:

    Don't build your home or business on a floodplain!"

    On one hand, I tend to agree. I think it's sort of irresponsible for someone to build a new home in a floodplain. But there are a lotta homes that are already there. Like ours. And, despite the huge PITA that these last couple of floods have been, I can't imagine living anywhere else. I think all of my neighbors would agree.

    However, one of the comments to this opinion kind of rang my bell...especially the part I highlighted:

    "Last time I got too close to the river, besides the smell (which was a cross between rotted garbage and chemical fumes), I noticed a lot of floating litter, the lovely brown of the water, and a nice, bloated carcass of either a very large rat or a possum. It's intestines had burst from the stomach and were as bloated, floating next to it, like a big umbilical cord. It was quite frankly the grossest thing I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of gross stuff in my time.

    I don't understand the fascination with the river, living on it, riding on it, going to businesses down by it. Though I do like to go to the EP Steak N Shake and watch barges on occasion. If my home or business had a chance of flooding from being too close, I'd relocate in a heartbeat. But I've seen two new houses being built along the river towards Chillicothe. Just don't get it. And why do insurance companies keep insuring these people? Only to raise our rates when the next big flood hits.

    Maybe people should be less obsessed with taming the land and changing it to suit their needs. Maybe there's something to be said for adjusting your lifestyle to fit your surroundings, instead of vice versa. Just like the oldsters who retire to Arizona and insist on having a grass lawn. When I plant my garden, I don't plant coconut, kiwi fruit or sugar cane. I plant squash, beans, and tomatoes. Duh."

    Like I said, I don't know what my particular fascination with the river is. Maybe it's because I've lived near it most of my life, though never quite as near as we are now. Yea, it's a lot more silty than it used to be, mostly because of over-farming. And yea, there's the occasional bit of garbage that some asshole tossed away. But I've never noticed any kind of "chemical" smell...unless you could call the odor of a dead, washed-up carp chemical. I call it "natural". It's nature. Animals die and get washed away. Or they fall in and drown.

    It ain't a swimming pool, fer chrissakes.

    In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the river is actually cleaner than it used to be. Years ago, people that lived along the river used it as a garbage disposal/sewage system on a day to day basis. Today, we have things like the EPA and countless rules, regulations and laws about what you can and can't dispose of in the river. Today, we have modern sewage systems and the PDC.

    Aaaanyway...back to trying to understand my own fascination with the river.

    Maybe it's because of the occasionally-spectacular sunrises...when I can drag my ass outa bed to see 'em. Get a really good sunrise over the river and it's not to be believed. Or a big full moon. I'm tellin ya...sometimes it can move me to tears. And I can't even begin to explain what it's like when the fog rolls in. It's like a big, soft blanket falling over the river. It's the absolute definition of the word "hush".

    Maybe it's because of the abundant wildlife around here. Ducks, hawks, geese, bald eagles and white pelicans by the hundreds call this little spot "home". When's the last time ya saw a Canadian goose, an American White Pelican and a Sharp-Shinned Hawk...all in the same day? The squirrels, groundhogs, ground squirrels and other local-type critters are a continual source of amusement...and sometimes consternation. Oh, and the Mayflies...those floaty, mouth-less, ethereal little fairies that live for only a day or two...long enough to breed and lay their eggs for the next generation to do it all over again.

    Maybe it's the assorted modes of transportation that float by the house every day. Huge barges, filled with coal or grain or...gawd knows what...bound for parts unknown. Sailboats and pontoons and houseboats. Racing boats and paddlewheelers and kayaks and canoes. Everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Like Rosanna-Danna says, It's always something.

    Maybe it's because of the river, itself. It's moods are ever-changing and unpredictable Some days, it's languid, slow-moving and smooth as glass...other days, it's roiling and wild and angry, flinging itself upon the ground like a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum. Some days, it's as blue as the sky...others, it's a muddled mix of gray and brown.

    Yea, I dunno what the fascination is. I do know that the river is It's my touchstone. On my way home...from wherever I've been...the first glimpse of it makes me...relax...sigh. For whatever reason, it's where I'm supposed to be. It's "home".

    So, I'll say this to the "unknown commenter", who probably lives in a safe, clean, ho-hum subdivision where all the ticky-tacky homes look exactly the same: Stay there with your perfectly manicured, pest-free yard. Stay there where your biggest worry is how to keep up with the Jones'. Stay there, close to your strip malls and chain restaurants and 62-screen movie theaters. Stay there. You couldn't handle it out here, anyway.

    Me? I'll just crack open a Corona, go sit on the deck and watch the river go by.

    Just as soon as it gets a little warmer.


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