Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sometimes it's hard to share a river...

Happy Independence Day! I hope it was swell for you.
We spent the morning at a pancake breakfast at the church, which, for the past 10 years has been followed by a water fight. It is kind of an unusual water fight as the line is generally drawn between my self and my posse of two or three brave souls who wield our water-filled fire extinguishers against the rest of the kids in the neighborhood who are all poor-sports and gang up on the kids who look more like adults—namely us. It was awesome. There is something utterly refreshing about a water fight, especially in July, and today was all that.
We spent the afternoon with family on the Weber River, floating on anything that floats from Hennefer to Taggart, or about 7 miles as the crow flies. For the most part, it was also a refreshing experience, but for the first time in my life, I found myself feeling that it is hard to share a river. It was a strange mix of folks on the river today. Most of them were under thirty, had at least one visible tattoo, had at least one visible piercing, had at least one visible beer in their hand and were very visibly drunk. I found myself wondering if it was a frat party as at least 80% of the folks on the river fit this description.  Am I getting old?  Is it wrong for me to be offended by the exercise of free speech that leaves my children and myself feeling violated, like we were recreating in a polluted river. And lets face it, it was polluted heavily today. With the majority of the folks drinking beer as they floated down the river, I didn't see even one person carrying a tote bag for their empty cans. Instead, those cans went into the river I love.
I have floated this river a few times before, and in those cases, I had the river mostly to myself. It was beautiful. Birds of prey were soaring overhead, deer danced on the banks, trout played in the water. But when you have a gazillion people on the river, the magic of that place cannot be seen. It's hard to share a river with those who don't appreciate it the same way I do. I missed the solitude. I missed the silence. I missed the magic. We had a wonderful time despite the distractions, and we will certainly go again, but next time, I hope those who share the river with me might be more sober, more considerate, more thoughtful.
Have you ever come across a Sprite can or a Coke can in the wilderness? I haven't. But since the time I was a child, I have picked up and packed out hundreds of beer cans left by insensitive travelers who must have been enjoying themselves so much that they forgot that we share the wilderness with everyone, and most of us like not finding other people's garbage in the places we love the most.
I know it's not my river. I know people have every right to dress the way they do and express themselves the way they want, but tonight I am appalled by the growing disrespect and degradation of society. It is hard to share a river with those who don't care for it and love it and respect it enough to leave it better than they found it.

I don't know, maybe I have been reading too much Terry Tempest Williams.

On a positive note, I have been writing—abundantly—and I plan to have the next book done in December, just in time for Christmas.

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