We're still wooing, and being wooed by, our river.
Yesterday I stood so long in the eddy that a crawdad climbed onto my foot, not to pinch or prod but simply to perch.
When we arrive Nathan walks up shore, jumps in and floats to our spot. Then he stands in the shade with me, talking of course, and occasionally tossing rocks at passing sticks to help Henry.
Echo kicks off her shoes and her clothes and revisits several important landmarks, like Loggy-poo the log and Favorite Tree the favorite tree. Then she assembles and demonstrates the exact precise quantities of sand, dirt, goop and clay needed to make the perfect "indian clay". Eventually she asks me to help her swim which means I stand in the eddy, she tip-toes as far as she can, and then she launches into a feverish dog paddle. In her words, "This is really fun, but also kinda stressful."
Xi does lots of whooping upon arrival, lots of scrabbly sandals against rocks and quick movements. She often stumbles upon a snake and screams her way back up to us. Then she loudly yodels her joy and her love of the river as she makes her way back down to water's edge. She's the treadmill swimmer of the pack. She stumbles up-river, loudly, gleefully swims down, scrambles up-river, loudly, gleefully swims down. Eighty-four times.
Bella beelines for the sandy shore, and the hole she's been working on for several years. She's half in the water and half out. Partly listening to her sisters and partly a million miles away. At some point Xi's whoops lure her to the river treadmill but after a couple of her own very loud and celebratory laps she's done. She finds her glasses, a towel, and the rocky perch by the wild rose bush where she throws rocks against other rocks to watch them shatter.
I arrive, unclick the smallest child from her helmet and lift her off the bike in one fluid motion that makes me feel like an expert - a short moment of graceful mamaness. Then I plop down the river bag, wade in, dunk under with my white sunglasses, emerge to the whooping supportive sounds of the girls, and climb back out to sit in the shade, talk with Nathan, watch for sticks for Henry, and people watch the folks drifting past in tubes.
Inhales. Exhales. Drifting cottonwood.
If I could string these river moments together like pearls I would.