A Lazy Drift on the August New

The New River, whose headwaters lie in my part of the Appalachian Mountains, is often considered the oldest river on the continent and even the second oldest river in the world—though not all experts agree. So how did it get its ironic name? No one knows for sure. In any case, I wrote this piece at an August writing workshop at New River State Park a couple of years ago as I reminisced about the many canoe excursions the Gnome and I have shared along this wild and scenic river.


A Lazy Drift Down the August New 

Ducklings huddle in bank cuts 
resisting parents’ push into the current;
two deer take a soothing afternoon sip 
cooling stick-thin legs in mountain-icy water.

Holsteins wade across shallows 
to greener pastures, perhaps,
and a Great-Blue stands majestically, 
its sharp eyes ever watchful for a tasty fish dinner.

I bump across rocks and glide over riffles,
the sun dappling my legs and arms,
my bottom as chilled as drinks in the cooler;
I wave to splashing children and paddling picnickers.

Trees bear witness to beavers’ work 
as swallowtails float above;
sticks of an osprey nest 
rest on a boulder ledge.

Thirsty gray-green leaves 
and occasional yellows and reds 
flutter down and drift along 
beside me.

River’s edge is plastered with signs of autumn—
seed-popping touch-me-nots vie for space
with sunny goldenrod and mauvy Joe-Pye weed;
citrine coneflowers fill every cranny.

Clouds playing across the mountains
produce ever-changing panoramas of light and dark
as they cast reflections of blinding white
on the emerald river surface.

Floating downstream 
in the late summer quiet
I am lost in the flow of this river 
of calming mindfulness. 

Our sturdy Coleman canoe saw us through many rocky river rides.

Native coneflower

Orange spotted touch-me-not. Juice from the stems can be used to treat poison ivy,
which usually grows in the same vicinity.
Goldenrod–not the culprit some allergy sufferers think.
Cloud shadows.
A portion of the New River. Photo by Eric T Gunther, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

8 thoughts on “A Lazy Drift on the August New

  1. My favorite line -“ My bottom as chilled as the drinks in the cooler” – Ive paddled the New River in spring and remember how cold that was water. Thanks for continuing to share your gifts of writing with us. Hugs. Jan

    >

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Carole Coates Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s