Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Living River

[Nathan writing]

The river changes every day.  Even in winter.  One would think that -5 degree weather would freeze the Big Sioux into stasis, but this is not nearly the case.  Aside from the snow and leaves blowing across the icy surface, the water beneath continues to flow, sometimes leaving depressions, sometimes lifting slabs of ice upwards, sometimes cracking the thick upper layer, sometimes bursting through.  This place lives.

Two nights ago was especially creepy.  Finger-like clouds from the north sneaked up on the starry sky and were illuminated by light from the city.  Phin and I walked down our property alongside the river.  The air temperature hovered around zero, made sharper by the wind.  Every few seconds the river snapped and cracked.  I got to thinking how Native American groups like the Oneota (who used to populate this exact area) conceived of all things as alive.  Suddenly the river made a loud groan, something almost human yet preternatural, similar to the noises one hears on those movies where a metal ship is buckling and sinking.  For a moment I became an animist.

Then I looked back and saw our curious octagonal house glowing amid the river basin.  Perhaps better to get warm and discover a new river in the morning.

1 comment:

MOM said...

Love it! I was walking with you as I read.

But please be careful as you walk its banks. Don't let the jaws of the river reach out and grab you.