Thursday, March 31, 2005


Reeds, After E to P, 2005; digital photograph Posted by Hello


Bridge, After E to P, 2005; digital photograph Posted by Hello

Suspended Sticks

Suspended Sticks, After E to P, 2005; digital photograph Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 24, 2005

World Water Day on the S. Yuba

Edwards Crossing at 3,500cfs; digital photograph, 2005 Posted by Hello

World Water Day Mineral Puddle

Mineral Puddle, digital photograph, 2005 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Tubs at Edwards, March 21, 2005

Tubs, March 21, 2005; digital photograph Posted by Hello

Monday, March 14, 2005

Above Bridgeport 39, March 13, 2005

Above Bridgeport 39, March 13, 2005, digital photograph Posted by Hello

Bridgeport - Rock Foes and Allegra

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I came to Bridgeport today to see the wildflowers. The poppies, lupine, and other flowers that I can’t name due to ignorance of their nomenclature, are blooming in full force. The day is brilliantly warm and sunny, the hills a lush green that we can only experience for a few brief months of the year and illuminated by vibrant spots of orange, purple, yellow and blue flowers. And, yes, the butterflies are out. Bridgeport is all wildflowers and butterflies these days.

I began my day’s journey on a well-groomed trail heading upstream. The trail veered up. I wanted to be down by the river, so I dropped down a little side trail leading down the steep hillside. It began to traverse the hill as the other trail had done, but it seemed to lead me closer to where I wanted to go.

My chosen trail soon turned into a foots-width deer trail that led me to a rock out-cropping. I stopped and studied my obstacle. The hillside below the rocks was definitely venturing close to ‘cliff grade.’ The short rock climb was very doable, especially with my rock climbing background, although my heyday in that was about a decade ago. I began placing my feet deliberately and confidently picking my handholds. About midpoint in my traverse I suddenly seized up with fear. This was not expected. With legs splayed and hands above my head, my body tensed, fingers gripping unnecessarily hard onto the rock. This visceral reaction was not a welcome one. Then I made my fatal mistake and looked down. Visions of falling hundreds of feet to my death sprang into my head with graphic depictions of my head cracking. All the scrambling over rocks I’ve done recently involved kayaking so my head was always encases in my Kevlar helmet. I felt utterly naked without it and a rope.

Frozen and gripped with fear, I debated my choices: continuing forward to where I could see my deer trail begin once again not very far in front of me or down climbing which I never feel comfortable doing. For some unknown reason, my brain insisted on backing down the way I had come.

Back on my familiar deer trail, I felt foolish and tried to push my phobia aside to try again. My mind refused to comply and looked for plan B. Plan B turned out to be a higher version of my current deer trail though a healthy looking clump of poison oak. Going up and around my obstacle seemed like the most sensible way to get around it. I attempted to gingerly slink around all of the evil green leaves that I am so susceptible to. Finally through that, I continued up and over and then, much to my disappointment, to a higher version of my former rock foe. Take two on rock versus Leah. I am not pleased to report the exact same outcome. This worried me. If this rather low-grade climb has thwarted my progress, how can I expect to descend into the rugged canyons further upstream? I realized I’ve been sitting on my butt in boats for so many years that I have forgotten how to balance on my legs. This will have to change.

In defiance, I ventured all the way down to the river thinking my way would be easier going on the granite. It was for a small amount of time. Then the rocks became impassible. I could have gone around them in the water, but I was neither dressed for it, nor did I have any waterproof casing with me for my camera. I pined away for my boats. I sat on the granite for awhile to figure out plan D. A woman came down with apparently a similar idea as mine, saw me sitting at the terminus of passable rock and turned back around.

I decided to hike back up. The same woman was on my former deer trail about to reach the rocks. I confessed my phobia. She shared it. I continued straight up the hillside without a deer trail, through gobs of poison oak. Scrambling up I reached the well-maintained trail where countless strollers meandered to and fro to admire the river and flowers. I joined them, taking out my camera to immortalize select poppies and lupine. While doing this, my fellow rock-phobic trail companion appeared once again. She had avoided the poison oak on her upward scramble to the trail and was dubbed ‘mountain goat’ by same trail walkers. We chatted for a while. As I talked I noticed a neat trail complete with stone steps leading down to the river where I had been trying to reach in my deer trail, rock-scrambling mishaps. How ridiculously simple! We introduced ourselves, Allegra is her name, then trudged down the stairs together to the river.

Immediately upon reaching the river I took out my camera. Allegra was gone from my sight when by the time I looked up. I moved through shallow water and up over rocks slowly, looking for potential images. I found her tennis shoes and socks placed side by side on the granite, but still saw no sign of her. Eventually I saw her stretched out on the sun-warmed dark rocks by the water.

I returned to where I had dumped my daypack on the granite to eat my sandwich. Allegra joined me as the sun started disappearing behind the ridge. She lives in San Francisco very close to where I had once lived, but comes to Nevada City often to visit her boyfriend. We had an enthusiastic talk about city planning and maximizing green spaces. Instead of paraphrasing her words, I hope she eventually will supply her own for these pages.

We departed as the sun went down and the air became cold. I left feeling very satisfied with my day’s experiences at Bridgeport, not because of the terrifying rocks, but because those same rocks allowed me to serendipitously meet an interesting like-minded woman whom I hope will gradually increase my knowledge of the integration of water and cities from her own personal point of view.

Above Bridgeport 44, March 13, 2005

Above Bridgeport 44, March 13, 2005, digital photograph Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 13, 2005


A being dedicated to water is a being in constant flux.

---Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Above Purdon's Crossing 21, March 7, 2005

Above Purdons Crossing 21, March 7, 2005, digital photograph Posted by Hello

Monday, March 07, 2005

Purdon's Crossing with Cali

Monday, March 7, 2005
South Yuba River, Directly above Purdon’s Crossing, River right
390 CFS

Today is day three wearing a tank top. Spring is here this week. I came with Cali the borrowed dog. It sounded like a good idea to bring a dog along. I had visions of a happy dog romping around and exploring the river with me. It was to be fun. Instead I got a dog that stopped dead at rocks, unable to figure out how to get around or over them. Picking her up and placing her beyond her obstacle was the only way she could cope with the challenges.

I let her off the leash as soon as we got close to the river. She seemed happy enough. I reached inside my backpack to get my camera and the next thing I knew was that the formerly hesitant dog had bolted full speed ¾ of the way back up the steep slope we had just descended. I believe this rapid ascent of hers caused a sudden deafness in the dog. There was no response that I could detect as I frantically called her name up the canyon walls. Lovely. Within ten minutes I had already lost my loaner dog.

Reluctantly (and quickly) I scramble back up the hillside, still calling her name. Eventually she appears far above me, refusing to come back down. I coax. I plead. Taking her sweet time, she finally complies and slowly makes her way back down to me.

As I inform her that she has lost her off-leash priviledges, I notice she must have visited a booming tick colony during her attempted flight to freedom. Plucking ticks is one of my least favorite activities of all time. Taking a dog a long for company no longer seems like a good idea at all.

After securing her leash to a spot on the sandy beach she starts to growl and bark. Following her very directed barks to the other side of the river, I see her target – a man completely naked except for a wide brimmed olive colored hat who is attempting to cycle through yoga poses in peace and solitude by the river. I guiltily realized I had done a great job at shattering the serenity of the afternoon for him.

I grab my camera, but my concentration was stolen once again by Cali. I needed to reassure myself every minute or so that she was still present on the beach. Then I began to fixate on the fact that if she had been covered by ticks, she was probably also covered by poison oak. I put the camera down once again, snatch Cali up in my arms and plop her into the river for a good scrubbing. She tolerated her river initiation well. During the procedure, my foot slipped off of the wet rock I was perched on and my boot flooded with water. Mental note: no more boots and no more dogs.

Glancing across the river, I see the naked yoga man upside down, balanced completely vertically on his head, his butt facing directly at me. Impressive.

The bushes along the river bank are budding out. A few branches have leaves that are just beginning to unfurl like little green flags. Soon the view from my little beach will have an obstructed view of the water. I am now able to concentrate on the river better. I climb onto smooth, bowled out granite reaching into the water. I go out further and further, laying my body over the rock’s contours to get as close to the water as I can.

The naked man is finished with yoga and is now lying on his back in the sand reading a book. His left leg is bent at the knee, his foot planted on the ground. His right leg jets out at a right angle from the other where he has crossed his leg at the knee.

I brought a bottle water filter with me so I can drink the river water. It has an iodine cartridge that I can’t seem to be able to remove and still use the filter. I am so disappointed that the clear water is tainted by the taste of the iodine. It makes me not want to drink it. This problem with have to be remedied for the next trip.

Now the naked man is no longer naked. He has tucked his t-shirt into his jeans and is now lacing up his shoes.

The water is clear and green where it runs deep, gold in the shallows. Cali raises her head from her curled, sleeping body and notices the no longer naked man moving about. She growls, her entire body quivering. I have filled my camera with images. It is time for me to go too.

Surface 2

Surface 2, 2005

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Gaston Bachelard

The true eye of the earth is water.

--- Gaston Bachelard

Friday, March 04, 2005

Edwards Crossing

January 23, 2005 Edwards Crossing

Waiting for this afternoon’s phone call is making me nervous. There is a lot I want to say. I want to be clear and calm and not misunderstood. Restlessly I fidget with little tasks around my place, not really accomplishing anything except driving myself crazy. I get in my truck and drive to Edwards Crossing on the South Yuba.

It’s cold when I open my door so I immediately head to the other side of the river, across the bridge, to where the sun brightens the granite and water. I find a trail heading down the hill from the road, passing a small boy who is piling sand in mounds connected by his intricate system of troughs that he ploughed with a stick, and make my way to the rocky bank still wet from the recent rains.

I drop my backpack off on a rock and continue to the river’s edge. The water has dropped fast. Bending down, I hold my hands in the cold water until they start to burn with the cold, scoop up a handful of river and douse my face in a greeting. I then turn and join my backpack on my chosen rock.

Little beads of water cling to the granite like sweat. Moss crawls through crevices lacing through the rocks, bright green, soft lines. Brilliant mirrors of water sit in basins in the rocks, accenting the smooth gray granite. Battalions of tiny bugs float in the light as if dangled by invisible strings held from somewhere high above. It’s getting colder. I pull my sweatshirt hood over my head and watch my breath as it leaves my mouth and dissipates in front of me. My attention is caught by a thin strand of light dancing lightly up and down to my left, a single thread of shining delicate spider web.

Abruptly the rocks shift to a deep, cooler gray and I now can only see the bugs that are right in front of me. The puddles of water are no longer sky mirrors, but instead I can see through the water to the bottom like windows. Brown leaves and grit line the rock bowls. I shiver looking down the river past the horizon line to plot my line over the drop. It’s bony, lots of rocks, with the river being lower. The boy has come down by the river now to dig in the sand. He doesn’t seem to be cold. I hunch over my notebook more for warmth than anything else and can barely hold my pen in my hand to write. My quaking nerves over the immanent phone call have given way to the shaking of physical chill. As cold as I am, I still don’t want to leave the water, but I do. I think it would be a good idea to come back tomorrow earlier when the sun is still high.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Karla's Thoughts

This is an excerpt from an email that my friend, Karla, in Manhattan Beach, CA wrote to me March 3, 2005:

...every time we go up to Joel's family's cabin in Truckee we go paddling around the lake.... I always get one of my [kayaks]... so I can go and explore and feel the wind and do clear thinking. I really enjoy that time... its like nothing I have done before.... I liked it so much I begged Joel for one... Seems we all need to get closer to mother earth before we kick her harder than we already have. I don't know if its spiritual or not but being outside and doing things outside is when I am at my top form... Making people aware is huge. People don't realize these beautiful resources may not be here for the next generation.

--- Karla B

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Marie Bonaparte Quote

Running water is destined to slow down, to become heavy.

And then, after seeing the reflections, the dreamer suddenly looks at the water itself.

The water will get darker. And in order to do so, it will absorb shadows in a material fashion.

Water is no longer a substance that is drunk; it is a substance that drinks. It swallows the shadow like a black syrup.

It is not difficult to recognize this water as blood.

----Marie Bonaparte

Surface 3

Surface 3, 2005


Place Sunday, February 6, 2005

I am not a fraud. This has been on my mind all week. I am not insincere. I was looking at things as if Nevada City were my boyfriend. It is not my nature to get myself into a relationship in order to poke around a bit just to have fun, as a diversion (much to some of my friend’s chagrin), then leave. If I decide I’m in a relationship, I am committed to it. I try to make it work until there is no hope left – and apparently that might not even be enough to stop me.

If I applied that thinking to living in Nevada City, then I have no respect for myself because I am not necessarily committed for the long haul. I want to feed my personal wanderlust guiltless reassurances that picking up and going is always an option. If I planted myself here firmly a restlessness would creep in, slowly, but as persistently annoying as the mildew blossoming on my wall. Following restlessness comes resentment. I know this from experience. Resentment is something I want to avoid. What accompanies resentment is ugly and damaging.

And therein, lies my conflict. How can I say I love a place, how can I honestly get to know it when I always want to have a foot planted by the door?

I love this place. I love the people I have met here. I love the foothills and the South Yuba. I feel more at home here than anywhere else I have ever lived. I feel more welcomed, accepted and nurtured. I feel wanted. But I inevitably wander.

Yesterday I spent the day in Coloma. I hadn’t seen many of those people in a long time. It felt so good to be back. I felt like I was home finally. But I wasn’t feeling like I wasn’t at home when I was in Nevada City. I was welcome back into that river community like the wandering child who finally wandered back. I was even fed Honey Comb cereal when I got there.

It’s perfectly fine that I have a different community in a different place on a different river than Nevada City. Nobody would accuse me of infidelity. That evening I came back and went to a SYRCL (South Yuba Citizen's League) event and hung out with Nevada City people. I wasn’t betraying those I left behind in Coloma who wanted me to stay for dinner and music.

I can expand my stomping ground outside of Nevada City to the foothills. The California foothills are my home and everyone who I’m connected to here is my community. Yesterday I ran into some paddling friends from Reno too. Being connected to them is not a slap in the face to my California friends.

Every year I’ve been traveling to Central America. I’ve got a small community of people in a gorgeous exotic place that I have developed a deep connection to. I look forward to going back there, but I look forward to coming back here when I am there. No harm done. I love it there, but that love makes me love my hills and my community here even more. It also gives me a different perspective that I can bring home with me.

This is all perfectly obvious. A relationship with a place is not equal to my definition of a relationship to a person. But why do I still feel uneasy about Nevada City. Why did I feel like a foreign visitor last week at that swanky birthday party, an anthropologist studying something I don’t belong to? Why am I insisting on viewing myself as separate?

Fear maybe? Connection gives me responsibility. My paddling community expects me to move around. It’s a given within the community, the always shifting, changing community. It’s so mutable, yet its mutability is something of the glue. I can walk through the little subcommunities of paddlers with ease and acceptance. I am firmly planted within this river community, I’m an integral part of it. I can travel all the way to a different continent and be taken in like family because I’m a paddler. I do the same for others. We’re all bound and connected by The River. The community is that inclusive, yet so far-reaching. I feel comfortable with that expansiveness.

Nevada City is tight-knit. It’s solid. It exists here and only here. It’s a unique and strong personality that exerts itself with confidence here, in this specific place, this tiny dot on a map. That’s one of the things that drew me here. I’ve never had a community like this, so solid and fixed and so connected to this river. It’s new and exhilarating. But with it comes things that make me feel very uneasy. The glue here seems to be the strong involvement within this specific community located on this specific small place on our planet. A common accepted notion is that everyone here knows what’s going on with everyone else and how that relates to the place. It provided quite the comforting safety blanket when I needed help. They know, and they are there to help. But it makes me feel uncomfortable when I need privacy or space. I’ve stepped into this living organism of Nevada City and it’s like I’m a cell that affects and is affected by all the other surrounding cells that make this place what it is. There’s a kind of cellular memory. If I meet someone new to me, they often know something of me already. So many times I have been told that someone or another knows who I am, but I don’t necessarily know who they are. People I have just met ask me questions as if they already know me. It’s unnerving because there is no blank slate anymore. And so much of this is then extended into a relationship to Nevada City as ‘place.’ The location, environment and the Yuba River are so much a part of the identity of Nevada City. Community and place exist right here, together, inseparable.

I’m so fascinated by this. The more I explore the community here, the more they give to me, the more tangled within it I feel I become. I give back. I get more entangled. I love it and I fear it. When I left San Francisco, I felt like I broke up with the place - that I loved it but we didn’t work well together. But it and I were still separate. It hurt to leave, but I took all of myself with me. If/when I leave here I fear it’s going to be more than a separation. It’s going to be more like an amputation.

I feel a responsibility to this place. I feel it belongs to me and I belong to it. I’m not just using it. I have a responsibility to know it and what it is as best I possibly can. To not do that would be a betrayal to it. But to do it has huge consequences. I suppose I have already accepted that through my actions and involvement. I can’t view myself as separate anymore. I am thrilled and I am scared.