Saturday, March 13, 2010

Simply Messing Around In Water

To paraphrase the famous Mr. Toad of Toad Hall when he told Ratty that there was nothing, absolutely nothing better to do than mess around in boats - yesterday I concluded that you simply can't beat water to bring out the inner kid.

Here in the Sonoran Desert, an abundance of rain this winter plus slow melting mountain snow has ensured that the Rillito River has had water flowing the past six weeks. Yes folks - here in the desert our rivers are usually dry! Several years ago a major flood abatement program created pathways for man and beast along the river's course and they are favourite places for cyclists, strollers, roller bladers and just plain walkers. To have water flowing, cottonwoods leafing and "beaches" created is too much for some to resist.

Dog and I amble a stretch of the river most afternoons. Yesterday was a spectacular day - close to 70F, brilliant, cloudless sky - the sort of day that makes even old fogies want to skip. And they did - in heart at least. So many people exchanged greetings, marveled on the weather and chorused "this is why we live here" that my walk took longer than usual.

I was delighted to see spontaneous community generated by the mix of Sun and water. Two riders had ridden down into the river bed and were sharing the fun with their mounts - one rider managed to dismount rapidly as her horse was overcome by the urge to roll! Dogs raced after sticks and balls, kids paddled calf-high, adults came together in small groups - strangers forming instant community reveling in simple delights.

Two boys around 10 or so raced bikes down the path screaming, "they're coming, I can see them". All eyes turned east and two inflatable kayaks came whizzing into view only to get stuck on a sandbank. Great hilarity, lots of advice from those of us on dry land, and one wag yelling "Hey, Lewis and Clark - you musta taken a wrong turn somewhere." The two fifty-something kayakers were having the time of their life. They were playing, being silly, forgetting any cares and responsibilities they may have. We all laughed with them and cheered as they pushed off back into the water flow.

I resolve to play more often.

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