It's a celebration on the Salinas River. This is a banner year, because the Salinas is actually flowing, after six or seven of not-flowing. Years of drought turned it into a playground for dirt bikers and ATV fans. After 40+ inches of rain and wild floods, it's now a playground for songbirds, ducks, herons, spring breezes and an alphabet soup of wild things.
I scan for steelhead, knowing that even though I don't see them, they are silently, beating their way upriver to spawn in their native streams, seeking safety in shadows and under tree roots. Anadromous" is the Greek word for these salmony kinds of fish, which roughly translates to "Running Upstream." As living creatures on planet earth-- there are days when "running upstream" can describe any one of us.
Some days, some years, it seems like all I do is struggle against the current. I make everything harder than it needs to be. I worry. I try to micro-manage my loved ones, who (shockingly) neither cooperate, nor appreciate my efforts. I rail against politicians who do not share my views on rivers and streams. I have the bewildering thought that I should have something to show for my 58 circles around the sun--besides wrinkles, scars and offspring that find me both somewhat amusing and (more than somewhat) annoying. But I have no idea what that "something" is. I'm an ordinary woman, having an ordinary life, apparently needing the same lessons over and over.
Still, these gritty little fish inspire me. They don't give up, even after years of this river offering only dust and dirt-bike tracks. They wait it out, until the conditions are right, and then they just swim with all their might. That grit, that refusal to give up, is what makes them survivors. It's what takes them, finally, to the quiet pools where they lay their eggs, propelling their species into the future.
Life has such conflicting messages. "Go with the flow." "Swim harder." Maybe there is a time for each. But today, rambling up river with the pound parolees (who never worry and are deliriously happy just to be here) I'm thinking that maybe the only lesson I need to learn right now, is just to be truly awake, truly aware, of this glorious moment I've been given, with river and sunlight and birdsong. And if the weather forecast holds, there's another blessing coming: more rain on the way, which my fierce little swimmers will love. Happy rambling!
Welcome to Streamriffs.com, a place for fellow creek- walkers and nature lovers. Lori Fisher Peelen lives in California with her family.