Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Family On A River

This weekend we went as a family to the Nantahala River in western North Carolina for a couple of rafting runs down the popular class II-III dam-controlled two hour stretch of river. I think this is the 4th time we've rafted the Nantahala in as many years. (The first time we rafted it Casey was barely up to the 60 pound minimum weight so we hid a couple of one-pound ankle weights in her pockets to insure she would "make weight".) This is a really fun and safe trip that I heartily recommend for just about anybody.

This year both kids took turns "riding the bull", which is the term for sitting on the front end of the raft as it goes through the rapids. Casey fell into the water twice and did a great job of following the instructions that are taught to everyone before they get in the river: point your "toes and nose" downstream, don't try to stand up, and let someone haul you back into the raft. Gina was a good sport about my gentle ribbing that she looked exactly like a classic movie scene of a desperate mother reaching out while mouthing in ultra-slow motion: "My Baaaayyyy-Beeeeeeee!!" (As a perfect example, look at 2:14 into the staircase scene from the 1987 Kevin Costner film "The Untouchables".)

The picture at the top of this post is taken by a company that does nothing but photograph rafts and kayaks going over one particular spot near the end of the Nantahala run. If it's not maneuvered just right it's easy to get a chance to "count fish" (fall into the water) very suddenly. We feel like old pros by this time. I'm already scouting around for a river in the western U.S. to travel on next summer, maybe a guided tour of the Salmon River in Idaho.

The metaphoric potential of a family navigating a river together is obvious. Lazy stretches interspersed with seat-of-your-pants decision-making, the need to stay balanced and work together, the necessity of going with the flow.....all of these and more are part of the life of a family working to live and grow together in such a way that everybody stays on board safe (if not always dry) until the end of the ride.

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