OK. Change of plans. I’ll write about Earth Day #49 next post. More on that soon.
For now my mind has gone floating. As in float trip, canoeing, spring runs on our amazing Ozarks’ streams. A weekend of snow, rain, and now temperatures soaring into the mid 70’s is typical of April weather.
So are the gauge readings of 4.21 feet on Bull Creek at the Walnut Shade takeout, 4.60 feet on Beaver Creek at the Bradleyville put-in or takeout, and 4.25 feet on the Buffalo River at the Ponca put-in. All available on-line, all perfect for launching a canoe. Swan Creek doesn’t have a gauge that I know of, but since it lies between Bull and Beaver, it’s got to be good!
And Swan Creek is where my memory takes me this Tax Day, 2019. Back to April, 2002, and my son Patrick’s first float on her. It was special, as most of them are. I wrote it all down to preserve the memory and in hopes of getting a river anthology published one day. I’ll share an excerpt from that time and place.
“Next up was Swan Creek with son Patrick. The weather was cold and threatening, and the water was flat out rolling. Patrick McHaffie Parnell has never been floating on Swan Creek, even though he bears the name of ancestors who lived there two centuries past. What does that have to do with floating? Nothing, beyond deep roots, family history, and the morphing of one McHaffie namesake into another along the banks of Swan Creek.
Catching Swan Creek right is no easy matter. First there is the water. Swan Creek has a lot in common with a gutter. I’m not thinking aesthetically of course, just hydrologically, if there is such a term. When it rains in the Swan Creek watershed, brown roiling water pours into chiseled rock channel bottom, compresses into giant haystacks, and roars into the backwater of Bull Shoals Lake. When it rains all Spring, as it has this one, the water clears out and stays high and beautiful.
Second is the weather. Most of the time Swan is floatable, it is cold outside, not exactly the kind of weather you want to flip in or even catch water in your lap. Been there and done that…
‘This is some serious stuff’ I heard Patrick mutter. I could only nod my concurrence…
We bounced our way through rapid after rapid, rolling on waves. The angle of light in Spring is remarkable, just enough off-kilter to magnify and intensify colors. There is nothing soft about Spring blues, greens, yellows, pinks and reds. Even white seems alive. They all danced today as temperature soared into the mid sixties and the creek transitioned into fantasy land…
We soared across the low water bridge at Hull’s Ford and before we knew it were into the last two rapids of the day. The first required skirting large standing waves as we skidded around a bend to the left. We did just that, taking in water and frantically trying to sponge it out before heading into the final run which presented as a churning mess. We plunged into the right channel, knowing we would have to cut back left through a rock slot midway down. The trick was to make the cut, spin back, and hit the wave below straight on. If it caught us sideways there would be hell to pay…
We arrived at 3:30pm, a mere three hours and ten river miles after lift- off, exhilarated and amply rewarded.”
(So that’s ten pages of copy reduced to one, but hopefully you get the picture, and are ready to go to the river yourself!)
So back to the present. We are truly blessed with magical waters and colorful Springs in the Ozarks.
And if you’re not on the river, come out to the Springfield Square from 11 AM to noon on Earth Day, Monday, April 22nd and share a ceremonial “passing of the torch” from we old timers to a new generation of “Young Earth Advocates” (YEAS!).
This “Regeneration of Earth Day” will feature nearly 100 students from local high schools and universities assuming responsibility for planning Earth Day #50 celebrations, and Rep. Crystal Quade as lead speaker. Loring Bullard and Beth Sigfried have choreographed a creative and inspirational program.
And next evening, April 23, please join me for a new environmentally themed presentation, “Life is a River – A Bend Beyond”, from 7 to 8 PM at the Library Center on S. Campbell.
A lot going on next week, including aforementioned son Patrick’s 41st birthday, on Earth Day of course!
See you soon I hope – on the river, at Earth Day on the square, or “A Bend Beyond” at the Library Center.
Coming next, April 30, 2019 – EARTH DAY, #49
Attend Todd’s debut presentation of Life Is A River – A Bend Beyond, Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 7 p.m. at The Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell Avenue, in Springfield, Missouri.