These rivers each have a huge presence but very different souls. The New River is this rushing dynamic masculine God with a deep, old power. He's not hostile but he tests your strength even with his gentler currents. The Greenbrier's a shallower, slower feminine river, nearly a creek in her smaller places. She has good cool swimming holes that are quiet and shady, and she glistens with a jewel-like rock bed under crystal clear waters. She inspired my favorite poem, which I'd posted as a kind of teaser post.
I didn't know the long haired raft guide Bu, although I'd met him just before those years through a mutual friend (and I'll link to that story after I repost it here.) Those years living in a tent by the wild river, reading Tolkein and Kerouac seem to have permanently impressed themselves into his nature. The outdoors always reminds me of my husband, and when we dated we were outside a lot. His aura reads like water to me when he's at his happiest, and his moods directly reflect how much time he's been in fresh air. Seeing him in the river with his broad, sunspotted shoulders makes me dizzy in love.
We want so much for Emsy to grow up outside. Bu did, running in the woods where we live and camping and later backpacking with our incredible dog Dharma, name for Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. I'm excited to show her the rivers and the forests and the amazing mountains in our region. (The photo is the three of us on Spruce Knob, the highest peak in WV.) If I can choose a gift for her to take from us I want her to fall in love with the wild.
My love of nature's so spiritual and theoretical. I feel like a tourist in a campsite or state park. My childhood was lived almost completely in my mind- buried in stories and sketches. I want to know the outdoors better, deeper. Know it like a resident and symbiont, not a passer-through. I want Emsy to never think about her place on this Earth, I want her to feel in her bones that she is of the Earth. No number of Sundays in church or full moons in a circle can teach her better than swimming those beautiful rivers and roaming our woods.