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David Hoag

Wild River

In 415 B.C., Euripides wrote, “The first requisite to happiness is that a man be born in a famous city.”

            But in 2010 A.D. cities are rampant with building codes, standardization, and people’s coda—overwrought with postscripts. People drop-off payroll checks, plan with their Day-timer or Outlook or on a digital calendar, dress alike, think alike, smell alike, sleep past dawn, want a tour guide for a free-time leisure museum tour, a writing workshop organizer—can’t focus on being artistic between text-messages, or they join a photo-safari club and give up initiative and creativity for the Photoshop guru.  The nameless, faceless pedestrians side step the cell-phone to the ear implanted drivers who invade the white-striped crosswalks.
            Compare that to living along a wild river. Along a big cottonwood forested river. Seventy bird species live, chatter in the cottonwoods like the Willow Fly-catcher, “Rrritz-bew, Rrritz-bew, whit.” Nest built in scraggly cottonwood or shorter smaller willow branches. Nest an open cup woven of weed stems, plant fibers, pine needles, shredded bark, and grass—no building inspector, fire marshal, or tax collector.
            Sleep under the Big Dipper as it rotates around the North Star and watch a billion glittering lights.
            Smell the fresh dew on the grass of morning.
            Watch the whitetails feeding along the riverbanks—head-down, chew-a-cud, head-up, tail-switch, head-out.  
            Gaze at rainbow trout rising to May flies.
            Sit in the city and write poetry about fish swimming upriver toward eternity or head out, climb in a raft, float down river spin-casting, fly-fishing, whistling for dinner.  At the end of the day, which place would time-traveler Euripides says brings contentment, sleep without pills, lack of horn blasts, and witness to the natural order of things?
            The Willow Fly-catcher sings for his supper and afterwards too.