How can I describe in words the magic of existing for twenty-five days in a small community living along the banks of a river? Life-changing, affirming, rewarding beyond measure.
We are on day twenty-four today, and I have risen before the sun to watch it burst over the treed horizon. After weeks living in much solitude under the sparking stars next to the exhale of river I am not accustomed to the bustle of the city-scape, though I welcome the opportunity to confront discomfort. I used to feel dejected and depressed at the sights of traffic crossing bridges, barges moving wood chips and log booms, the steady city din a cacophony that overwhelmed my senses. Today I do not feel this dread. Instead I see the city as an opportunity, as the dark that is a part of each and every experience on the earth, as a necessary step in our progression to seek a reconnection with nature.
The participants who have blessed this journey are full of positive affirmation, kindness and generosity, and it has been so rewarding to accompany them down the river on my own last trip. We have collectively worked on their project plans in the same way we have paddled the thirty-six foot voyageur canoe–each contributing our comments as we endow paddle strokes, dip and pull, dip and pull–accomplishing as a collective what would never be possible as individuals. There is power and circularity to community living, and as we stand or sit in circle at each night for our close I am continually reminded of how joyful and magical the world can be, and that the wonders and marvels of living outside, close to nature, can bring us into communion with our forgotten birthright to live in harmony with the landscape around us. I truly believe that spending time in nature, even a few moments looking at a planted ornamental tree on a busy city street, is what will impel us to make wiser decisions effecting the future of our environment. You do not have to live outside to make it happen. There is life and nature all around.
It has been a pleasure and an honor to journey down the Fraser River for the past five summers. I know I will miss this trip and the energy of the river and the subsequent groups of change-makers who set out on the quest to make a difference. I also know that I feel a pull to be home, to live by example in my own community, to grow food and live in creative communion with the landscape of Haida Gwaii.
The stories of my experiences living in and journeying down this rivershed are vast and varied, and my project is to capture them more fully in a second edition of my book about the Fraser basin, The River Home. I plan to run a go-fund-me campaign when the final draft is done to subsidize the first print run. My goal is to do this within the year. Please stay tuned and I would love your support and well-wishes!
At the culmination of this journey I immediately rush off to begin a one week Art of Mentoring program at the Wilderness Awareness School in the North Cascades. I have wanted to take the program for many years, and finally the timing has aligned perfectly. I am thankful to have the opportunity to spend yet another week sleeping under the stars and living outside. It is what makes me feel most alive and joyful, and I know it is my life’s work to bring those who step into my life into experiences shared with nature. Thank you as always for your support and interest in my endeavors, and for giving me spade to share my enthusiasm with you!
With love and gratitude to the mighty river that always brings me home. May the river run through you. As I finish these words a beaver swims to the shoreline, lifts its head, and dives into the murky water as a blue heron skims the river’s surface in flight. Messengers of the bounty the river holds even in its urban existence. Thank you Mother Earth.