Sunday, April 22, 2007

Southern Gentleman's Sweet Words

I haven't written for this blog in a while... concentrating mostly on the business end of the company. Big Poppa and the rest of the crew have been sending lots of new posts with the perspective of being on the river trips during these past few months. Starting in February, when the guides went up north to do the Smith, filling in their acclimation time on the American River, and then last month, spending time up on the Cal Salmon, they've been blogging. Their posts are funny and filled with lots of new pictures. It was a pleasure to read them and see the images of the river and the crew.

The past week's posts have been cloaked with the sorrow of Virginia Tech, as all of us were affected by the tragedies of young life ending so abruptly. Those students were the same age as many of our river guides. It also triggered for me the sorrow of a friend who died just a week before from leukemia. Lots of sadness, lots of time to think of my own mortality.

The weather reflected all the tears, too, as winter seemed to come back with rain and snow on the summit this week. The client paddlers came out anyway, regardless of the weather. Some even called to make sure we weren't canceling. I love them all. They seem to know, at least by my interpretation, that life is nothing without a bit of hardship. With the bad, comes the realization of how good life really is. My family, my dear friends and this rafting company, who I've had a pleasure to be associated with for many years, have all given me unconditional love.

He called yesterday, a gentleman who recently moved to California. His voice lilting with the echoes of a Southern origin. His demeanor and candor was so refreshing. He was a river rafting junkie. He called me sweetheart, which usually, I would bristle, coming from a feminist attitude. But it was the way he said it. He spoke to me as if I was his daughter. It came from a sweetness and love that I hadn't heard in such a long time.

It seems that our world just keeps getting meaner. There is no other explanation. We can go on and on about society's failures, but it just boils down to plain ol' mean people. They're the ones who scream at us on the phone or flip us off at the stoplight. Being mean takes a toll on everyone. It kills the soul. The best and grandest reminder of heaven on earth is when I'm on the river, the ocean, the outdoors. It's God's gift to be able to enjoy being on the water; a soulful connection with the earth and a greater being than oneself.

Sun's out today in all its spectacular glory! And that Southern gentleman? He'll never know how he lifted me and wiped away the tears.

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