Slide1These days are golden. Or that’s what I tell myself as we head to the river. It’s what I told myself in June or May even, before school was out, the day we drive down to the bay to buy oysters. The day we sit in sunshine and eat cinnamon rolls in the afternoon for no good reason except that it’s warm and they taste good, slightly sweet, and so full of cinnamon they make our mouths burn. We drink soda pop with names like juniper berry and watermelon rhubarb, drive backroads that zigzag across the flats to the bay, watch gliders hang in the air and land in the fields. I drive with jazz on and the windows down. A warmish wind fills the car as my son shouts questions from the backseat.

“Can you play piano like that mom?”  I shrug my shoulders. “Sure, why not,” I shout back. Because anything seems possible in that moment, in these days when the sun shines long on the green grasses, as we drive across the railroad tracks to the shacks by the bay where we get our bags of oysters, and head home, back into the mountains, tired.

The days are still long when we leave for the east side of the mountains. The days pass golden though it rains and rains.  My son sits under giant ponderosas and whittles and watches the rain sweep across a pond. Later turtles fill the road and off near sunset an owl hovers above the tent with its screams and squawks as if we were haunted. There are bakeries and caves and springs and still it rains until we return home. In July there are parades and fireworks, days at the river.


There are visits to grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. Golden it seems as we ride bikes through the city then swim into dusk beneath a moonless sky, as we float on our backs and watch the twinkle of city lights appear.

Now, as we head to the river, the blackberries are sweet, the days are warm, the river low. We splash our way upstream to a place where the berries hang low and heavy. I’ve brought bags and we pick with our feet still in the water. I know these days are numbered. I know cold will creep in soon, the rains to return, the river to rise. Even now, I see the red of the vine maple reflected in the still waters, and the splotched, yellow cottonwood leaves drift downward.

The salmon will come, humpies this odd year. And they do. We see them on a cloudy morning, just two at first. “They’re spawning,” I say and point to them out to my son.  A female flops in and out of the water, burrows down into the gravel, digs a nest, her body pushing away rocks, making an indent for eggs. We watch until she lists sideways, exhausted.

In just so many days, the yellow school bus will round the corner, and take my son back to classes, and we will, in that moment be happy for it, for the routine, for the coming of winter, for the forwardness of all things.

But now, we stand in the river with our bags full of berries. They mash together and juice leaks out.  Our lips and tongue are purple with the eating, our fingers stained from the picking. We swim in the river, skip rocks, stand where the bottom turns sandy. Above us the mountain is white and bold, and I watch as it turns pink. I stand in the water as shadows creep, as cold comes, as daylight fades, as I realize it’s time to leave, to go home, to end our time at the river.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Beautiful, evocative – a treat to read. Thank you 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s