The Tenth Line
A place where a great river lives;
Where most of our crawfish used to come from;
Where commercial fishermen make a living;
A place of memories for a lot of people;
A home for ghost stories;
A place of great living complexity;
A controlled spillway;
A changing entity;
A smell in Spring;
You launch a boat at Charenton Beach when the willows are blooming in Spring and you can smell them everywhere. The smell fills you with a feeling of the joy of living. Perhaps it’s a combination of the warming water and the life that it is bringing forth at this time of year, and the pollen in the air from the willows and myriad other things that float through the air. The water itself has this musk-like perfume that reminds us of the earth, and the human odors that now are considered unwelcome. Arid Extra Dry has done us no favors as it pretends that humans should not smell like humans. But in spite of it we do, anyway. And that is good, I think.
When you are seventeen years old and the engine is running well and the air is forced against your face at 30 miles per hour, you can smell a future that it seems has already been lived. You feel wise, and older than you have a right to claim to be. I remember thinking that it was like I was 70 at seventeen. It was not a proud feeling, but one of appreciation for the moment. For a small slice of time, I felt in the company of an unimaginably huge expanse of someplace that was all of time, and all of the natural world too, in a mix that had no borders, no defining lines. There were no limits at that moment. And this great place, this moment of being, was introduced to me by the smell of the willows, and the water, and the mud, in the Basin, in Spring.
The Basin isn’t the only place that can make you feel like that, but it is important to know that it is one of them.
The river is at 14.1 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, falling to 13.7 by next week. The Ohio and Mississippi are showing a little rise up north. Our low water this year will be slow in coming. In other years I could have set my trotline by now. To do that the water has to be at 8.0 feet, and that’s a way off yet.
Rise and Shine, Jim