go with the flow
Guess who got pretty good at all day relaxation?
Rose, mud and great blue heron tracks.
While Rose’s highest goal for herself on the San Juan River trip was swim splash shriek snack, Col finagled himself into the rower’s seat within ten minutes of setting off. First, he sat on Dan’s lap, small hands feeling his dad’s powerful strokes through the water. I snapped a few “how cute” pictures, y’know, the little guy fancying himself as boat captain. But, as you know, Col is quietly persistent, and in little time, Col took the oarsman seat completely, rowing our boat while Dan reclined behind him.
Tops for this eight year old boy.
Tops for this six year old girl.
Mexican hat camp.
Ancestral puebloan petroglyphs – note the many big horn sheep, most common big mammal along the San Juan River.
Modern day descendants. Tops for the
42-41 year old man. 41. Sorry honey.
In July the desert heat is epic. The highs were close to 100F and the lows just below 70F. There was a brief moment, just before dawn, all four of us sardined into a tent, where I felt somewhat comfortable. This lasted approximately twenty minutes. When we’d crack open a new water jug and find it was merely lukewarm, instead of hot, I’d call to the kids to guzzle up before the water cooked in the sun. Every now and then I’d see the fleece jacket I brought winking at me like a satanic joke.
And then, like an exercise in Zen Mind Tricks, in case anyone was dwelling in “complaining mind” over the heat that made you sweat at 10pm, a thunderstorm rolled in sideways. Lightning cracked open the sky – the very sky above our heads, and we parents plastered on our Everything’s Just Fine smiles while my nervous system wrung its hands. Within minutes, we were drenched and shivering and dreaming of fleece jackets and campfires. (And sweating again by 10pm, fleece jacket grinning evilly from drybag).
Campsite under the big moon.
Captain Craig and Chris.
Partners in what-the-hell-are-we-doing?
Posse ‘o’ kids. Everyone knew someone, but no one knew everyone, and everyone got along.
Old salty dog Hinds and his Mama.
And, yes, we had a really super time, but, no we’re not transformed into river people (although I hear a certain eight year old boy is saving up for a kayak). I am boggled that people take 20 day river trips through The Grand Canyon, packing up and unpacking every single day (but I respect their passion and love hearing their stories). My kids were happy and awed and playing games by headlamp well into the darkness of desert night while I sat around with the adults, which seemed like a good gig in itself.
As everything is communal 0n the river—rotating groups of adults take turns cooking, we all begin and end our daily float together, if someone stops to gawk at big horn sheep, everyone stops, a hungry kid shows up on your boat, you feed them (Rose scored big on this one)—it helps to let go of your own individual preferences and, if you will, go with the flow. In going with the flow, you can clear out the extraneous flotsam of your own mind and get on with loving life.
And rowing a boat through a mellow river is its own brand of bliss (Col occasionally let me take the oars), just the right balance of striving and progress, continually arriving and yet always having farther to go.
Like this dear life.