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Inside Out

Respect the River

Jeanne Sager
Posted 7/20/21

Growing up just feet from the river, there were always rules.

You respected the river’s power. This was the unspoken rule, and yet it was the biggest one too — the one that stuck hard …

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Inside Out

Respect the River

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Growing up just feet from the river, there were always rules.

You respected the river’s power. This was the unspoken rule, and yet it was the biggest one too — the one that stuck hard and fast.

You didn’t go into the water without telling someone you were going.

You didn’t go into the water alone — you always took a buddy.

You didn’t leave someone alone in the water — you always took your buddy out with you.

You didn’t go into the water after a big storm.

You didn’t go into the water when it had reached a certain height.

If you were unsure about any of the rules, you simply referred to rule number one.

For the first 16 years of my life, I woke up each morning and looked out the front window at the river. I was a baby on the river, a toddler on the river, a curious elementary schooler with endless summer days to fill on that river.

I always knew the river was bigger than me and stronger than me.

I always knew the river that was helping shape the person I was becoming could also just as easily take my life.

Growing up on the river, you know these things. But you also know that the river can be deceiving, that placid waters can shield hidden depths, that being able to see from one side to the other can easily give the illusion that what lies in the middle is easily tackled.

The river looks fun from afar, and it is. It’s a place where you can splash and swim and waste the day away only to come out pruney-skinned and sun-kissed and wishing you could dive back in.

It’s also a wonder of nature and yields all the power that nature has over us mere humans.

Wear your life preserver.

Stay safe.

And respect the river.

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