When we stopped it was warm enough for me take my first swim in the river’s icy waters. Washing ten days of river off me and back into the Mississippi. It was warm enough to send fishermen out onto the water to enjoy the afternoon’s sunshine and provide us with fresh caught dinner—a blue channel catfish—the first fish I’ve eaten from the watershed.
The fishermen had come to the river to share the day with each other—a friend, a grandson, and stepfather. They ended up sharing with us as well. They stayed around until sunset. Then motoring north before dark they left us with fresh fried fish and the glow of their company.
We let our fire burn down as the stars came out over the calm river, then crawled into our tents. In the evening a cold front brought heavy rain and cold winds that have pinned us to camp, about ten miles north of a hot shower in Memphis.
To escape the nylon confines of my tent I went for a walk south along the shore. A tall sand dune runs along the river for about a quarter mile before dropping off and giving way to a mud bank. Huge cottonwoods and sycamores swayed in the the icy wind over my head. Waves broke against the shore. Hundreds of white pelicans flew in wavy circles over the opposite bank, cartwheeling in the gusty wind. I shouted to them, cheering them on in their avian aerobatics. They soared higher, my voice lost to the wind.