This was intended to be the first installment, but it got sidetracked. Think of it as an introduction, not a guide, but perhaps it will explain some. The story, which had kept popping up in my mind for some time, was prompted by stories....my older relatives, dad, the uncles and aunts. Life on the Oregon coast in the 30's, 40's and 50's, and my knowledge of the coast since then. In these stories, my wife appears in the upriver section, and like the upriver, she's never vanished. My friend Quinn, died in a boating accident on the Rogue in '63, chatted with me in a dream once and approved of a description of the river. You may have to go back to the stories to understand. Anyway, here 'tis:
River, the beginning
I began each day like this, as though it were the last. I know the last days will be here, where the sun runs into the ocean, that I will see in a movement of sea birds and hear in the sound of water beating against the earth what I now only imagine, that the ocean has a sadness beyond even the sadness of herons, that in the running into it of rivers is the weeping of the earth for what is lost.
By evening, when confirmation of those thoughts seems again withheld, I think of going back upriver, up to the log jam, past where the stump is jammed, or even beyond, to the headwaters, to begin again.
I will tell you something. It is to the thought of the river's banks that I most frequently return, their wordless emergence at a headwaters, the control they urge on the direction of the river, mile after mile, and their disappearance here on the beach as the river enters the ocean. It occurs to me that at the very end the river is suddenly abandoned, that just before it's finished the edges disappear completely, that in this moment a whole life is revealed.
It is possible I am wrong. It is impossible to speak with certainty about very much.
It will not rain for the rest of the day. Lie down here beside me and sleep. When you awake you will feel the pull of warm winds and wish to be gone. I will stand somewhere on the beach staring at the breakers, the scampering of sanderlings, thinking I can hear the distant murmuring of whales. But I can as easily turn inland, and go upriver.
When you awake, if you follow the river into the trees up the valley I will be somewhere ahead or beyond, like the herons.
When you are overwhelmed with feeling, when your fingers brush the soft skin of a deer-head orchid , or you see a house ahead, near the river bank beyond the falls, you will know a loss of guile, and the beginning of the journey.
Come find me. We have much to see.