Winter Marathon 2008
The Platte in January
by Dan Boster
Early this morning, driving across the Platte, I believe I came to an understanding of the subtle hope at the root of lies.
The flowing of the shallow river has returned as one thin snaking strip between the false banks formed by now weakening ice. I’ve read of the calamitous uproar of raging rivers thawing. This is not one of those rivers. In those stories, chunks of ice cascade into one another, creating dams downstream. Insane stories of men (wearing red and black flannel shirts, bearded, I’m sure) jumping on to these spontaneous twisting jumbles of ice, placing dynamite, and jumping off as the fuse disappears, the air suddenly all crystal and roar. These scenes are nature’s way of alerting all of our senses to the end of winter, the onset of change. The tellers of this story love the symbolism, the anarchic drama of it all. The listener wants this, too.
But, here, the river tells another story—a muted tale. Instead of the rush of sudden thaw, ice coming from the mountain tops, our rivers ice leaves politely. Freeing the deepest part first. Coyly loosing twigs, a beer bottle thrown in last summer. And, on a day like today, one of the false starts in the coming of spring, the ice starts to relinquish just a bit—quietly, orderly.
This river is more to our liking here. There will be no adventure, no dynamite. Like the tellers of dynamite, I see the slowly thawing river as our story. A note of goodbye stuck under a coffee mug on the counter, fingers rising in greeting from the steering wheel, tight-lipped smile. This is what most of us are. Our stories may flow, catch things on the way, but go quietly.