Heavy rains also loosen debris on the river banks – logs, branches, litter and other detritus is gathered up in the loving arms of the river and floats downstream – sometimes getting snagged on the bridges or docks, and eventually settling somewhere far away from its previous resting place. River debris can also take on eerie forms at night – resembling a hungry river dragon (that considers paddlers just an appetizer) or toothy alligator (it’s a long way from Florida). My team is always relieved when river debris turns out to be…just river debris.
During Portland’s rainy season (is it really 10 months out of the year?), one can find unusal objects in the water. The most interesting things I’ve grabbed from the water are a rolling pin, a basketball and a wooden grave marker. The latter said: “RIP Pogo 1959.” I’m hoping “Pogo” was a dog that lived a long and happy life…not human.
We once had a tiller that would veer off course every time she spied litter in the water. (I think she was just bored, and I prayed that she wouldn’t get bored in a race.) At first, it was disconcerting because we always thought she had perhaps lost her footing, or fallen off the boat into the water. I would have a momentary panic attack, because I know I couldn’t till a dragonboat in an emergency. I avoid learning to till because I selfishly want to paddle the entire hour, and I don’t want the responsibility – someone who still gets confused between “right” and “left” has no business tilling. There have been times when tillers have almost grazed the side of one of the expensive yachts moored in the marina. (But given that our team has quite a few single paddlers that need a nudge to go out on a date, our tiller might try to steer, on purpose, into the nearest yacht, especially if that “accident” leads to a date with a cute single yacht captain or first mate.)
So enjoy the Willamette River’s new “brown”. There’s never a dull moment on the water (unless you’re a tiller). You never know what you will find floating by.