Friday, July 23, 2010

Sibling Assignment #132: The Clearwater River

I gave the assignment this week. You will find Raymond Pert's here and Silver Valley Girl's will be linked when she has written it. The Clearwater River represents stories I began hearing in the car along Highway 12 over fifty years ago. The Clearwater River represented a dangerous river, a river you needed to respect. I heard my mom tell the story once again about how my aunt almost drown. Then she  would remind us of the details of that man she saw dead by the river.  Mom was nervous when we went out too far in the river at Beaver Dam. She sat on the hot sand on a towel along the shoreline smoking a cigarette, her eyes scanning the river to make sure she could see us.

The river road was icy in the winter and stories echoed down the canyon of vehicles that plunged in that river. Before the building of the dam the river flooded, covering the fairgrounds and homes close to shore in Orofino.  A car traveling too fast on the river road at night was in a head-on collision and someone was killed.  People were reckless when they passed in a hurry to get home after a day in Lewiston. We always heard these stories.Highway 12 along The Clearwater was a disaster waiting to happen.

Recently I returned to the Clearwater River. It was calm, peaceful, and beautiful. I wasn't scared our car would go headfirst in the river. I didn't get close to the shore to swim, but a group of rambunctious teens were jumping off the rocks at Zann's beach without any fear of the current. There are big barriers now along the river side of the highway as a safety measure. I would suspect that keeps cars from ending up in the icy bottom of the river. Dworshack Dam looms large between two mountains as you gaze up the north fork by Riverside.

It was the first time JEJ had seen this river. I lamented about the river I remembered as a child. I missed Beaver Dam, Bruce's Eddy, and the old road up the north fork.  I longed for the dry, bare hills heading down the river that are now covered with sprawling mansions. I wanted to once again see the ranch across the river and see the concrete blocks representing a bridge that was lost during a flood.

I think what I missed most was the old bridge entering Orofino. Whether we were hot and sweaty on an August afternoon, sleepy and squished into the back seat in the evening, or coming for Christmas on snowy roads, there was always a safe feeling when we saw the bridge and the arrow pointing us across the Clearwater River with the words Orofino lit up. We entered the place between two mountains that held family, friends, good memories, and a feeling of being safe and loved.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Nice capturing of childhood memories, places revisited. Funny how it all comes tumbling back.