Watershed Moment


Our 15′ Montauk, Boston Whaler, Finn anchored @ the mouth of the Narrow River JAL


Hurricane Sandy ripped the roots from the ground and fed the trees to the Narrow River. JAL

Sheriff Brody hated the water. We never knew why then he took the job as Amity Island’s Sheriff, other than his view that “it’s only an island if you look at it from the water.” Oceans, like rivers, unite and divide the land and people. The two most important rivers in my life, one narrow, the other the mightiest, have many stories to tell, and some speak to my heart. The wisdom gleaned from river stories depends on the point of view that I take to make them meaningful.

The Narrow (aka, Pettaquamscutt) River is a seven-mile long tidal inlet created by a receding glacier 20,000 years ago and that dried out after a couple thousand years. The melting glacier raised the sea levels that in turn sullied the basin’s pristine lakes with brackish waters. The river began to pulsate to the rhythm of tides. This tiny river is fed and abused by its 14 square mile watershed – lands drenched by rain, sewage and springs that drain into the river. During times past, the Narragansett and Niantic Tribes heard and understood the Pettaquamscutt watershed’s voice. Watersheds are untrustworthy confidants – they leak secrets downstream about who you are and how well you care for the land and water. Water sustains all – water destroys as easily as it creates. When life as we know it changes suddenly – for better or for worse – it’s a watershed moment.


Deb & George shedding their kayaks. JAL

A watershed moment is a critical point that marks a division. It is triggered by an experience or crisis that profoundly alters the future. Just as heavy rains on California’s mountains later flood the valleys below or bury homes in mudslides, watershed moments are epochal. Some life changes are created by a single choice or mistake so powerful that one’s course is diverted from hope to despair. Our sights are abruptly severed from envisioning what might be to a full frontal view of great loss.

Voltaire observed that it is the privilege of a real genius, especially one who opens a new path, to make mistakes with absolute freedom from facing consequences. There are few Einsteins aboard most boats. The things we do and say aren’t always that smart, and like the steady trickle of a tiny stream, little things can create great changes over time that rival the work of cataclysmic deluges.


My sunfish, Solstice – oblivious to watershed moments ahead. JAL

We are watersheds fed by pure springs and rain, while also somewhat tainted by our own piss and vinegar that drains into relationships flowing through the lives of those we love. Regardless of our age, income, gender and education, chances are there is at least one watershed moment ahead. This moment will divide us from some things and unite us with others – like a river does to land. Somewhere down the channel is a milestone that is going to have profound effects later on. It might be a situation where doing the right thing is the most painful moment of your life.

We tend to recognize watershed moments after we’ve sailed pass them rather when they lie ahead. Find a quiet space and listen to the memories of stories whispered by ripples and waves. If you listen long enough the stories will merge into one great understanding. If you look hard enough at a river you’ll see things you never knew existed and possibilities never imagined. Be aware of and protect your own watershed and river. It’s an optimal way to invest in a healthy, vibrant life.


Kathy’s day lilies survived Hurricane Sandy and bloom every summer. JAL

Season of the Switch


Switchy Woman

The Red Sox wore red caps and helmets for Saturday’s Game Three of the World Series. Sunday they switched to blue.  Most Midwesterners have switched the AC off and the heat on. All of the harbor masters along the Alton Pool have warned their members that the water and pump out facilities will be switched off within the week as temperatures are bound to fall below freezing at night. The sun that recently glared mercilessly to further overheat the hemisphere now rides the horizon at hip-height, its rays lazily grazing the cooling waterways. It sleeps late and retires early allowing the supercilious river waters to brusquely deflect its tepid brassy rays. Red to blue, warm to chill, on again, off again. Must be the season of the switch.


Cool Sails Warm Bluffs Illinois Great River Road, Alton Pool, Mississippi River Aboard S/v Sandpiper

Fall foliage is a clever disguise for a certain arrogance that permeates fall. When it comes to high honors for best-dressed landscapes, New England wins. Nature flips a switch around the Equinox and the green fields and mountains ignite with a Red Carpet display of organic haute couture. Northeastern foliage screams, “Envy my brilliance – it’s all about me, me, me!” Inflamed crimson  leaves glow with golden auras. Brazen mums dominate gardens and resonate with pride. Swirling clouds of leaves slap away at summer highs and signal the all clear for in bound winter lows. Foliage, like guild actors, eventually lie quiet and forgotten as the season passes and they muster patience to endure until next year’s season premier.

Last SoccerGame

Pitch Perfect Attire

October is far less dramatic and a more humble of a season here in St. Louis. Rusty pin oaks dominate the sights beyond many windows. Locals are satisfied when the grass fades beneath a loose shawl of dull brown leaves. Pumpkins brighten lawns and dark pots of chili satisfy cool weather appetites. A sea of red floods Busch stadium. This is the season to awake in darkness, switch the alarm clocks off  and the lights on to greet the day.  It’s strange.


Red Bird, Red Girl, What Do You See?

Thousands upon thousands of men, women and children in and around St. Louis adapt to the season by piling on more stitches of clothing to ward off the chill. Short shorts are switched out for tight jeans. Tank tops are flipped for layers of thermo-dynamic, sweat sucking – heat preserving attire. Body heat is amped up by joining a cacophony of revelers bedecked in scarlet, gold, and navy outerwear highlighted with ornamental birds, wild prey, and beasts burden. We’re swapping the last thrills of Cardinals baseball and kids’ soccer for Mizzou and Rams football. Everyone is soaring from hot to cold, dockside to fireside, and outdoors to indoors. It’s a switch.

Pack up the flip flops – break out shoes and socks. Pull out and hunker down with those books you meant to read last summer. Chill. All of the year’s long sunny days have been redeemed for languorous evenings to savor HD TV shows recorded for “the time when we’ll have time.” Crock pots fill as grills chill. Slow food beckons us to while away time savoring a good meal shared well. The Cards are still wearing their red caps for tonight’s game. I don’t know about the Sox. Must be the season of the switch.


Sox Fans Unite! Photo By SMCL