Notes from the river

First day on moving water in a kayak. Big lesson…paddling downstream is a lot easier, especially for a novice who doesn’t know how to read the river.

From my 2011 essay in the Sacramento Bee: A river is a living organism, with objectives, memory and behavior. It seeks to balance energy, volume and gradient with the kinds of sediments it carries by regulating width and depth. From the west side of the Sierra, three main channels of the American feed 1,888 square miles of watershed into Folsom Lake. From the east the river responds to the Sierra, from the west it responds to the levels of the sea, and in between–man.

From 2011: In “The World According to Garp,” the definitive novel of the eighties, the undertoad haunts me. What lies beneath the surface of water? “In the wondrous river that defines Sacramento, a dichotomy between the beauty of the surface and hidden forces below, only becomes evident from the middle of the river, not the shore.  Beautiful, complicated, powerful and deadly, it’s like the undertoad. Understanding its forces isn’t comforting.