I try to walk Meistie, our little dog, once a day, usually around 3:30 in the afternoon. Half of our walk takes us under the I-90 overpass that stretches along the north side of the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. The South Fork isn’t the region’s pretty river. It runs like a channel along downtown Wallace’s northern edge, flanked by the overpass’s route on one side and the frontage road on the other. (For pretty, folks go the Coeur d’Alene River’s lazy North Fork, which can teem with floaters on a hot July or August day. The South Fork never sees floaters.)
Walking day after day along my segment of the South Fork, through the river’s variations across the year’s four seasons, has been something of a visual education for me. At first I didn’t notice, but in time I saw many things I hadn’t seen before about the river. A bench right across the river from Wallace’s Beamis gas station is where Meistie and I will stop for a few minutes on the walk’s return leg. Meistie at first jumps up on my lap but soon becomes impatient, jumps down, and eyeballs me to continue walking back to where the car is parked.
The river is crystal clear save for several days when the Spring runoff is very heavy and the current becomes turgid, turbulent, and brown with whipped-up sediment. The bottom is easily visible where the sun’s glare hasn’t interfered. What I began noticing most — and what began to fascinate me most — was the array of colors of the rocks on the river’s floor. I wish my little cheapo cellphone’s camera could capture this display of color variation. There are wonderful and subtle shifts in coloration, from a rusty bright orange to a dull brownish orange, all set off in contrast against the clear blue-green of the current passing over them.
You’ll have to trust me, I guess, that the color display is remarkably subtle and varied, since my camera fails the task. I’ve spent more than a few moments thinking about the short film I’d like to do of that color display and its seasonal variations. Some of that thought time has been devoted to what music I’d select for the film’s sound track. I want it to be evocative and melodic, but not sentimental. Oh well, it’s a project I’m guessing I’ll never actually get to anyhow! But I keep thinking about it — during the walk and as I gaze down at the river. The river bottom’s host of subtle variations in rock oranges, browns, and blue-greens certainly deserves beautiful and loving showcasing, maybe with some Vivaldi and some John Fahey in the background.