Long day on the river
That old border of GA and SC that Ron Rash writes about—a time when a little girl got drowned way on down
But not today
Happy endings and everyone safe, eddy hopping and ferrying, some surfing in open boats and kayaks
leaving us boaters with tired triceps and worn out abs and sun-burnt forearms and scalded necks even on already weathered and chiseled bodies.
We played in the surf. We joked with ‘twerry about it,” which thanks to Nathan I still share with friends today like Angel and TT. If ever some friends needed to ‘twerry about it’, but another story for another day.
Dinner was a welcome treat of burritos and guac, sour cream and salsa
Not enough food to suffice, but I don’t think there could have been enough on counselor budgets, hungry stomachs,
And Roark guidance. He taught me frugality—a lesson I rarely follow, but still good to know.
Long after dinner
We parted the old-like house
We headed down the stone steps, hundreds of them
Down, down, down
And there before us was our craft, a ski boat from the 70s
Wood paneled and mildewed
It was perfect.
We set out on the calm mountain lake in North Georgia
A setting so different from the jostling water of the Chattooga where we had played in the afternoon.
Now it was nearing midnight and
Hilltops, mountaintops surrounded us in an amphitheater where we were the stars and the moon up above lit up the lake bright
River and Anne, the latter later known as Enna Deer, broke into a harmonized duet that would have made Bonnie and John proud.
There’s flies in the kitchen
I can hear ‘em their buzzin’
But I ain’t done nothin’ since I woke up today
River, with her beautiful long hair and her New England hard edges being softened by a summer in Appalachia.
She was soft in voice and demeanor like a down jacket
and as content to call North Georgia home as anyone who had lived in the Clayton vicinity for a half century or more.
This paddler, ironically and beautifully, named after the streams and tributaries and fjords where she took comfort and solace and made a summer paycheck,
belted out the melody and Anne followed behind, the true master picking up the slack and making the song really come to life.
I could see in the face of the professional that they were not perfect, but she let it go.
It wasn’t a night for perfection.
It was a night for improvisation and relaxation. Friends of friends all becoming fast compadres by the miraculous beauty of the surroundings and the trust that these acquaintances were trusted by others near by. Those who found themselves in such a place on a June evening, they had to be friends, long time friends, even if some of them met in the back of a shuttle pick-up truck eight hours before.
A note lower than the melody, Enna Deer came in clear and gritty
Make me an Angel
Flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold onto
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go
The two sounded like angels. I believed the song and that its' lyrical dreams, Make Me An Angel, were coming true because the long blond curls of River and the sharp features of Anne which I had for so long thought beautiful yet intimidating, they were softening and I was seeing her in her element, making magic with her voice. I barely knew River. Never saw her again. She was Nathan's college friend and I have always loved her—inner beauty, outer beauty, whatever. What’s the difference? She was beautiful and I loved her.
I had never heard these words before
Like so much the Nest introduced me to
Classics that I thought came straight out of the Eagle’s Nest
This is a memory decades old, but was it yesterday? Could be. Thanks to John and Bonnie on the iPod I can get at all the vision and the dreams, the images and the symbols. The song alone has many stories to tell.