A collaboration with the Water Forum: the Lower American River

Notes from the river, May 18, 2021.

Ten years ago, my writing buddy Tom Biglione was my indulgent and loyal expert river-man and racing canoeist. I’ve again asked for his help in taking another trip. There’s so much to understand: hydro-geology, geology, geomorphology, botany, fisheries, zoology for starters. I can only begin to scratch at this again, to try to comprehend what’s under the surface, what we can’t perceive from the banks. I can only approach this as an observant artist, a listener, a recorder–and find the people who know, from paddlers to the experts.

8:41 Sailer Bar, Merganser with chicks
As always, Tom points the canoe at a “V” on the surface which shows him the deeper, safer way.
From early 1984 until late 2010 I lived on the real bank of this river at River Bend Park. This was a favorite place and over those years, before people created a broader path, I fantasized that I was the only one who knew about this place. That it’s changed drastically since is deeply disturbing though I know that’s what rivers do: they change. Especially when they’re “Wild & Scenic.”

Boils and whirlpools

The Iris, yellow in the spring, are not wild, Tom tells me. Just domestic and spreading.
On early mornings when I used to visit almost every day, I often saw otters, but seldom beavers. When the Merganser mom gets worried, she commands all her chicks to jump on her back. I know how she feels.

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