A River of StarsPosted: July 24, 2015
The form of running water is literally radical; the networks which streams cut into land resemble the root systems of plants. As plant roots link soil and sky, so rivers form branching ways in which the life of sea and land move up and down.
~ David Rains Wallace (“The Klamath Knot”)
I am continuing with writing haiku, as I find inspiration here and there. Here is a series of attempts at capturing the beauty of a recent camping trip. We camped along the South Fork Smith River, downstream from where it flows out of the Siskiyou Wilderness. It is a pristine river with a clarity and color all its own. If it were a crayon it would be called “Smith River Green” at least at this time of year. The Smith River watershed, the only major watershed in California that is undammed, is well-known for its recreation opportunites, especially steelhead fishing and whitewater kayaking. The water flows cold and clear and the night skies are undimmed by the artificial lights of cities and towns (no cities nearby and few small towns). This is a wild and rugged region of California.
Our final night of camping ended with ukelele playing and singing along the banks of this mighty river. Our newly made friends, two sisters from Austin (TX) and San Diego (CA) and a local guy, Alex from McKinleyville played and sang while bats dove and swooped, eating their way along the river. As dusk faded into night, more and more stars appeared. There was ursa major, downstream to the northwest; and scorpio, upsteam to the southeast whose tail dragged below the mountainous horizon. The eastern sky, above the ridgeline, got brighter and brighter as we continued to sing, as if our singing and the bats movement called the stars into existence. I kept waiting for the moon to appear over the horizon until I remembered that we were just past the new moon and that it was simply the Milky Way that was lighting up the eastern sky. It was so luminous and so vast that it looked like a river flowing across the sky, lighting up the world below. It brought back memories of past trips in the Siskiyous, Rattlesnake Lake and the Bear Lakes, where I had experienced the same thing. Outside of Africa, I have not seen so many stars nor such clear night skies as here in these mountains. With a yawn and nod to the beauty all around me, I quietly slipped into the darkness and off to bed.
Here is my attempt, in the form of haiku, to capture this moment:
A river of stars
Flowing on, one shoots across
Brightly. The dark night.
And one more:
A river of stars
Above. River of water, below.
Which river am I?