by Francesca Varela, Digital Coordinator at OLCV
Growing up, the Clackamas River was my playground. My brother and I spent whole days wading over slippery rocks, looking for crawdads and agates amidst the water-smoothed stones. My family lived within walking distance of the Willamette, but we drove to the Clackamas because it was clean, and fresh, and there were no myths about toxic two-headed fish for us to worry about.
The cold water came straight from the mountains. It wasn’t warm enough to swim in until July, and even then our legs grew numb. We would count down from ten, and then plunge into the shallow and slightly-warmer tributary creek. Later in the day, once we’d worked up the nerve, we would jump into the river itself.
Above us, the alders and cottonwoods flickered with sunlight, dropping leaves onto the water. Sometimes I would try to catch them as they fell. Across the river, an osprey lived, high up in a bald-topped tree. Every so often she would whistle, and change position in her nest, or even dive down to the water and catch a fish with her talons. We sat and watched her for hours and hours, hoping to see her fly.
The river was our place to connect–with the osprey, and the cottonwoods, and the wind, and the damp, summer sun, and the sound and feel of the river itself.
Clean, safe waterways are so important, especially for children. Part of the reason I went into the environmental field is because of those days at the river.
Today is World Water Day, and serves as a reminder that clean, plentiful water is essential, not only to life, but to happiness. We all deserve healthy rivers to swim in, play in, and connect with. That’s #MyWaterWhy. What’s yours?