On what would have been my parents 72nd wedding anniversary, it is only appropriate to talk about kids’ names.  What does this have to do with water quality or environmental stewardship?  You’ll see.

My folks named my brother and me after family.  For me it was father and grandfather, thus I became a 3rd.  For my brother it was a derivative of our beloved aunt’s name.  All historically binding, but short on creativity.

My son and his wife had recently discovered that they would be having their first children.  Yes, plural. As in twins, a lad and a lassie. And the naming game was soon underway.

In the meantime, my son Ben and I decided that we needed a couple of nights out on the river.  We intended to float the lowest section of the Buffalo National River, from Rush to the White River, over fourth of July weekend.  But the traditional vagaries of weather and water levels eliminated that option.  It was flooded, with more rain in the forecast.

Not to be denied, my persistent son reasoned that if we put in toward to top of the 125 mile navigable river course, we could get behind the flood waters, put up with a little rain, and still get a couple of nice nights out.  A rational option in theory.  So we launched at Pruitt to float to Mt. Hersey.

The first hour of the trip was glorious.  Beautiful sunshine, fish biting, high but stable water.  For one hour only, as the rains soon fell, the water clouded and began to rise, and the fish went dormant.  We called our outfitter for an early pick-up.  His driver was through for the day but could drop our car off next morning, where ever we wished.  We decided to paddle on in to Carver Landing, a campground and river put in and take out ramp, and await our rescue.

The rains finally slowed but the river kept rising, forcing us to set up in the buggy campground grass rather than on a pristine gravel bar.  Ugh.  Steaks and cold beer improved our mood, and as we sat around preparing to crawl into sleeping bags….

“Freeze dad, Skunk,” stopped me in my tracks.  I sat down slowly and waited.  It was then that I felt the tiny claws scrap across my Skunk on the Buffalo National Rivertennis shoes and looked down straight into the business end of a black critter with a large white stripe down its back.  The only thought that cluttered my mind was how cold I was going to be sleeping outside the tent in the rain because of the stench that was about to envelop me.

Amazingly, the skunk wandered on toward the sputtering campfire, grabbed a used steak bone out of it, and began to gnaw, before ambling slowly off toward the woods, several photos later.

Ben and I both breathed sighs of relief and agreed such a fortuitous ending to a skunk encounter deserved permanent commemoration.

How about naming rights for our twins Ben offered up.

Yes, I agreed.  No, we didn’t name them “skunk” and “skunkette.”  The young lad became Carver Benjamin.  We tried Hasty on the young lady in honor of the campground just upstream from Carver, but her mother nixed that one.

Ironically, Big Creek, along side a 6,500 pig CAFO, empties into the Buffalo at Carver Landing.  I insisted that we run up and take a look at it on the way home.  We pulled into a gas station in Mt. Judea, and I wandered in to ask for directions to the pig farm.

“You can’t go there.  They don’t allow no visitors. You can see it from behind the junior high.  Just pull around to the back parking lot and look down.”

“So what do you think about having a pig CAFO right next door, and so close to the Buffalo River?”

“Them’s just good ol’ boys trying to make a living.”  Word for word.

Hence, a split community, an unsustainable corporate farm, and an unquestionable threat to water quality.

That’s the what.

Coming next, August 21?  PLACES OF THE HEART

View past articles from River Rant The Blog here.

Stay current on books, presentations, and blogs at www.ToddParnell.com.

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