• Louise Carnachan

Take Me to the River


When I lived in Seattle, friends and I would travel to the Oregon coast for a few nights each year. On one memorable trip, we rented a house that had a “Big Mouth Billy Bass” hanging on a plaque outside the bathroom door. Every time someone went in or came out, the plastic fish would undulate and sing, “Take me to the river, wash me in the water…” (For a view of this creature, see this You Tube video- Big Mouth Billy Bass)

It’s probably because the darker days of fall are here that I’m thinking more of warmth and light. My love affair with the sea began when I was a kid in So Cal. The closest beach was Huntington and it was a big treat. As a small child I’d happily sit on a beach towel on the warm sand, burning through the Sea and Ski lotion on my fair skin. I’d play with (and eat) the grains stuck onto my sun-softened Big Hunk candy bar from the concession stand. Drifting into a nap while listening to the surf is a joyful memory. Every major life transition I’ve made has been accompanied by long beach walks. Maybe it’s because I’m a crab astrological sign that the beach is my go-to for stress relief.

In 1998 I bought a falling-down-around my ears house with a to-die-for-view of Lake Washington—from there I never looked back. For the next twenty years I had water views (sometimes itty-bitty pocket ones) from every subsequent domicile. I commuted past water and when I lived on Orcas Island, I took the ferry to work. My last office building offered a stunning view of Lake Union from the break room. The ever-present views of water in Seattle were a balm to my soul. Now that I live outside of Portland, Oregon, each time I need a fix I go to the nearby Willamette River. While I enjoy lakes and rivers, the sounds of surf and seagulls, and the smell of ocean saltwater will always be my favorites.

Ross Gay in his Book of Delights often speaks of plants and flowers. I can walk past a lot of stuff that grows in the ground or cracks in cement and never notice (I realize this is a character flaw that could terminate my Pacific Northwesterner status). Give me a body of water—now you’ve got my full attention. I hope I’ll have one more residence during my lifetime that gives me that view.

During these roller-coaster days of 2020, I’ve made a point of getting to the river three to five times a week. Moving into the darker and more inclement season, I worry I won’t get there often enough. If the day comes when I’m so infirm that I can’t get there myself, don’t be surprised if you hear me singing, “Take me to the river, wash me in the water…” I hope you’ll oblige.

Is there a place that you love and need to go to for comfort? Please respond in the box below.

Sending you appropriately physically distanced encouragement—and a reminder that this year will eventually come to an end and we’ll be that much closer to being able to do the things we miss.

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