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The Gearboat Chronicles

Writing on the river

We strung some words together down there in Hells Canyon. This last trip was a Fishtrap expedition, Fishtrap being our local writer’s outfit here in Wallowa County.

Just last week I had me a watercolor artist on my boat, now this. I tell you, I can’t keep up with these new ways of looking at rivers.

We sat on the back porch of the cabin at Bernard Creek and were told to write down what we notice. Not what we know. That “not what you know” part kind of threw me and I sat there kicking that around in my head for a long while, as everyone else was scribbling down noticed things.

I noticed that the shakes on the roof of the porch are longer than other shakes I’ve seen. So I suspect they were split on site. I don’t know that for sure, but I do know the average length of other shakes I’ve seen, so I crossed that one out.

Then I noticed that the boards that make up the walls of the cabin are super-short. Not over four-feet. And that ain’t right. Having two boards on top of each other to go the height of the wall.

So I suspect them milled boards might have been packed in by mule or horse. I don’t know that, but I never noticed it before and I do know it’s not usual to have half-boards, so I scratched that out too.

Then the time was up.

Other folks had noticed the sound of Bernard Creek going by, and also the deeper noise of the Snake River running just over the rise. Damnit, I should have noticed that.

And cobwebs and the scent of creosote coming from the boards of the cabin. After listening to what everyone else noticed, I couldn’t help but notice I’m no good at noticing.

But I learned a lot. And laughed a bunch. Except for the third night at Hominy Bar. I’ve been having poor luck with my contact lenses lately. They’ve been doing this trick where they make my eyeballs take on the look and feel of a hot, burning cinder after a day of wearing them. I’m going to have that looked at. But many thanks to my kind nurses who came up with eye drops and prescribed hot compresses. My eyeball feels fine now, thank you very much.

About these here photos: That one with the kayak is Ann pulling off some yoga moves from the precarious platform of an inflatable one-person boat. I shall not be trying to replicate that. But she made it look graceful.
Other one’s a beauty of Morgan’s boat drifting through some sunlight, and even with my burning eye and the smell of creosote coming from my contact, I couldn’t help but notice what an awfully purty scene that was in the lower stretch of Hells Canyon.

Ah, yeah. It’s been a swell summer and I confess these sundowns getting earlier and earlier isn’t something I’m jazzed about.

Heading out early tomorrow, though, for another run down the Salmon. And looking forward to it. With a new pair of contacts.