Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pocked and Pounded Silver

We drove upriver on the Washington side, crossed at Bridge of the Gods, and drove back down the Oregon side. It was very dark, and raining the whole time, so we only got out of the car a couple times. We hadn't been up the Washington side for a long time: we pulled over at Beacon Rock, and a couple other places. At one viewpoint, high up on the palisades, we could see up some fifteen miles up the river till it vanished in the rain-dim: each headland lighter colored and less distinct, and shreds of cloud tangled around hills' throats like scarves. The lightest thing in the landscape was the river, a pocked and pounded silver, much brighter than the sky. Mt Hood never showed his face.

Just diddled along, not trying to get anywhere or do anything. Stopped at Bonneville and looked in at our friends the sturgeon, their ruffs of gills and their dignified barbel goatees, their dull little eyes and slow sad undulations. When they open their mouths, a huge pouch suddenly appears under their necks: it's all very strange and rather Jurassic feeling.

Cold, cold and wet, but a beautiful day, in its fashion. We paid our toll, $1.00 in quarters, at the Oregon side of the bridge, and the bridgekeeper wished us “Merry Christmas!” Across the way was a nativity scene. I thought of Cheryl Strayed walking up to touch the bridge, at the end of her trek, and of the original Bridge of the Gods, sunk now by Bonneville, and I thought of just how many stories any one place can hold: as many as it needs to, really. Like that great unexpected pouchy fish mouth. Anything goes in.

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