I think I chose the name out of the blue in a deep and traumatic mood. A riverwatcher must be sullen, pensive and moody. Yes! The sound of it wells up images of a dark character staring into the swirling waters and moved only by the rain and wind, at his back, swaying impetuously and only as much as resistance will bear.
The name stuck when needing a simple shield from the modern world. A riverwatcher isn't required to think or act, just watch. No need to be on time or in a hurry when all you have to do is to watch the river flow by, dreamily. Some urgency is required if at flood stage, but this riverwatcher isn't in a commanding pose, just observing the changes that nature has brought to this table of flowing mud.
Some days the river flows with an urgency of it's own, capturing everything in its path, bowling over trees and saplings, raking in logs and debris with a ferocity and vengeance. These days the riverwatcher smiles and lasts as long as possible out on the pier, enjoying the power and swing of the marker buoys, the clap and lap of the waves in rhythmic harmony. To view the river on these days is to hear the river speak, to feel the mist and rain and to know the watcher and the river are alive and well.
On quiet days the river is almost asleep, slowing to a tepid pool, motionless except for small eddies and capture washes along the shore, stuck in some languid hush of stagnant water against some larger obstruction or barrier against the flow. The riverwatcher still visits but becomes distracted by the river life above the surface and the hidden teaming passengers along the current on silent days. The humming and buzzing of dragonflies, stench of humus and rising steam from muddy banks become a new song. The cool air as it rises and the welcoming bray of the tugboats passing reassure us that life on the river is as continuous as the days and nights that pull it along from mountain stream to flat delta shelves.
To see and dream of immersing in the sliding tide and quietly slipping miles upon miles without external catalyst is compelling. Countless children have ventured onto the banks of such a river and dreamt of scooting away surely and safely on home made rafts. Adults choose painted vessels of grand and impressive tastes to while away hours rocking and soothing stolen minutes from reality.
Workers in charge of utility uses on the rivers and locks, dams and bridges curse foul weather and drunken passengers. But the riverwatcher is a kind observer neither obstructing nor interacting with the human side of the daily directional path of water, silt, sand, rocks, microscopic beings, fish and waterfowl. No resistance can be made to stand in the way of so many tons of silken and suspended life forms, as varied as anything on shore.
If in the forest there are levels of a natural ecosystems, the soil, the underbrush, the middle layer and canopy, then in the river there are sections as distinct. Wind and storms displace the branches in the forest. In the river, the movement of the current, the reaction of the porous rocks or hard edge of stronger outcroppings creates the stepped rapids or towering cascading waterfalls. Erosion is created and maintained and produces the silt and sand and gravel to build the fans of the plains and flood banks, the rifts and banks and islands.
How spectacular to see the change in the daily river and discover the shelves and ridges now dry in gullies and washes polished to smooth desert rock. In contrast a bank alive with a green carpet of soft moss, nurtured by the spray of the mother creek rolling gently by, as reassuring as time itself, towering trees resting in the rocks and anchoring all together in a binding net. The vegetation and animals both on the surface and in the river are perpetually influenced by the single source for life, the river.
A gnat buzzes by and reminds the riverwatcher that not all is pleasant upon the cool dissolved surface. Pollution and outpourings from industrial waste, sewage and toxins continue to dump into our streams and rivers and pool up in our lakes and water tables. A respect for the fine flow that has emerged since the mountains were created and the clouds gave us rain needs to be remembered. More than a moving vehicle to carry away natural deposits of rock and shale, the river takes with it whatever it is given. If this feed is impure, so will our house be impure on the surface. Deposit only your eyesight and hear only the call of the creatures that call this river home. Become a riverwatcher and realize the sullen stance can change to a joyous call if given the proper care.
Dive deep in your mind and feel the pointed and crystalline shapes hitting your face as you swim about like a fish. Smell the fresh breeze as your surface and the warmth of the hidden pools lapping up on shore. Reach under the tangled roots against the bank and discover the animals hidden there as if a beaver in the wild. Breeze over backward like an otter and lay about on the surface in tranquility. Scan the surface like a hawk for tiny succulent slivering fish to wrestle down your throat as a fresh catch. And leave the river, as it is, as free from trouble as your mind, as peaceful as the shore.