In Kamloops this morning it was sunny and warm as we walked along the river. We have two days and thought we’d go down to Nicola Lake tomorrow for a picnic and to swim. But why not today, we said, because tomorrow it might rain. By the time we drove down into the valley, it was grey, and thunderheads were forming closer to the hills.
The water was very cold. When I glided out for a quick swim, I remembered last year when we came with Brendan and Cristen and the kids, bluets on every float. This year it was only us, and only me in the water. When I came out, I looked up at the sky through the pine tree right near the water’s edge, and it was every summer I saw in the lattice.
We stopped on the road to collect some rabbitbrush and sage. Traveller’s joy foamed over the fencelines and a hawk landed on a grizzled old pine. In every field, under every tree, a story, some of them ours, dried with sage to hang from the rearview mirror, placed on windowsills to shed their seeds.
Turn the page quickly. Remember the rivers you have walked along, and into, and how you were held by water green and lovely. How your grown sons still remember the Nicola River, your grown daughter the ride you took by horseback to Salmon River and its memory of the sockeye runs before the Hell’s Gate slide, a river you have also driven along on your way to Salmon Arm, its silvery riffles so beautiful in sunlight. Before the slide and before bank erosion and flooding, agricultural run-off and the heavy feet of cattle making their way to water. So many fish on this page, its wide waters. How you stop at Lytton each trip to marvel again at the marriage of rivers, your husband’s arm around your shoulders.
–from “How Rivers Break Away and Meet Again”, part of the forthcoming Blue Portugal, University of Alberta Press, 2022.