The river looks different than two months ago. I remember laughing. Feeling happy. Surrounded by summer sounds with big green leaves on the trees. And Sweating in the hot sun from a half-day’s paddle already. I had walked up these very stairs with a camp-stove and food, eager to make lunch for my daughter and take a siesta before continuing another half-day’s paddle.
Now, two months later it’s strangely familiar again. But different. The turn of the river flows slower. The road into the park is quiet. The rusty water pump still stands at the ready while the soft whistle of the Norway Pines no longer struggles to be heard. The people are gone and the picnic tables sit empty and alone. And summer—when the campground would have been filled with tents on most weekends along with wafts of rich wood-fire-smoke that would have imbued the park with a blue-gray haze—summer is gone.
A casual listener would have easily heard the giggles from children who were eager to be living in the wild that weekend, as well as the awkward laughter coming from nearer the water, where teen boys and girls who had stopped for lunch on their canoe trip navigated new routes of social intercourse with one another.
Most of the summer green leaves have fallen from their heights and lay brown and scattered by the wind. The only sounds that remain are from the water rushing endlessly over rocks that were hidden just two months earlier by higher water. The sun still warms the cooler October air even though it too has slipped from its apex in the summer sky. Everything is different. But the same. And quiet. Peaceful even. A kind of desolate peace, I would say. A little uncomfortable. But today I’m content to rest in it.