*River Trip of the Week

February 24, 2007

It’s been a long but useless week.

I got sick, succumbing to Mr. Pencil’s cold he had last weekend in Sunriver. This weekend we’re in Hood River, Ore., different river, different environment. I had to come later than the rest because I was making up some work that I missed.

In Sunriver last week it topped 60 degrees. Exactly a year before that the high had been four degrees, the coldest weather I’d ever endured at the time.

This morning Mr. Pencil woke me (this rental house is a ridiculous recent giant with several decks, several thousand square feet and a clearly more-than-million-dollar view of everything–Columbia, the opposite cliffed shore of Washington state, the other, smaller, eponymous river–but is a motley collection of twin beds and couches, so we’re apart during the night) and pointed outside and there were huge flakes coming down and everything was snowy. This seemed charming, but once the other thirteen or so people evacuated in preference of snow sports up on the mountain, leaving only Casey and myself, the once good-seeming idea of wandering around town became stupid when I started on my way and realized how absolutely soaking the whole world is right now: two or three inches of standing slush and a downpour of heavy snow.

But it’s been a good day. I hit the bookshop and bought a local book about railroad interests in the Deschutes valley in the early 20th century, as well as a biography of a 14th century English queen, dripping on the crammed display tables as I browsed. I finished my novel (The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield), an accomplishment of probably about 300 pages, alternately propped up in front of the fireplace in the house and over sweet potato fries at a local pub. The trip between the two (house/pub) is a relatively quick affair separated by, oh, about fifty-two million stairs (Hood River is sort of built into a cliff next to the river; there are municipal stairs in various locations). A pint of the pub’s seasonal wheat concoction followed by a quick puff up the stairs is good stuff for the constitution. I also got some work done, but that’s not as interesting or restful.

Really the view here is epic and we’re lucky to live near here (it’s an hour’s drive home). Fog is tucked into the folds of the mountains across the wide river and the gorge is still licked by snow. Cliffs. There is no color; the sky grey and the trees and rocks black at this time of day. I can just make out the thread of SR 14 on the Washington side.

The tranquility is due to be ended (which makes it that much more sweet) by the boys and girls coming back from the mountain. Doubtless they will be hale, flushed and starving.

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