for the love of the river


We are finishing up details around our home. The painting is done! Well, there is always something I want to paint (that bench that will be yellow, the cabinets that will be white, that minty frame around the mirror…). And the furniture is lazily meandering into their places. It’s slow-going because the call of the mountain creek trumps the call of the lined up piles of dressers and boxes in the garage.

Right now we occupy the hot Montana summer space where activity orbits water. For, the water? The water stays cold. I love that it is always surprising, that thrilling chill. The initial prick on toes and up legs as we wade in.


Or, as I prefer, jumping in on the count of three and losing my breath to the river.

Our new home is only a few blocks from the creek which makes it easy to squeeze in a dip after breakfast, before studio work, after errands, before bed etc. We’ve grown into a new family tradition: Pajama Creek Walk. It’s a favorite around here. Some nights I moan a bit, not wanting to motivate out the door. But the magical, consistent, guaranteed part? It’s always the best choice we could make.

Because the simple joy in tossing rocks, collecting rocks, skipping rocks, standing on rocks is one of the best ways to pass time that I know of; It’s universally appealing.

cowgirl boots full of rocks

And there is all that water which is mind-blowingly rad.

It’s all so ancient, these mountains and streams. Centuries to smooth a rock, grow a tree. My ancestors may have stepped on the same patch of ground. I find I think about that a lot. My great grandma died in this water, drowned when she went to fetch a watermelon from the bank. My grandma was Ruby’s age. My grandpa worked the railroad up the gorge. My dad rode his motorcycle along Rattlesnake Creek, jumping in along the way (back when that sort of thing was allowed). My mom learned to fish here.


Andy’s blood pulses through his veins in tandem with rapids, I’m sure.


For me, I churn ideas in the mountains. I am energized. Up there I think, move and am reminded of the vastness and smallness of our wide world. In the river, I meditate. I settle into mindful observation, calm happiness and knowledge of my core and intention. It’s like the mountains are my future and the river is right now.
my AWESOME bathing suit, courtesy of Popina Swimwear



30 Responses to for the love of the river

  1. DeRae says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. DeRae says:

    You have access to a great part of the river! I always try to find a good place to take the kids, but it’s usually too deep, or too rough.

  3. Beautiful creek – so neat that it’s right near your house. You said it – there is just something creatively refreshing about the mountains.

  4. jen says:

    there is just something about water, isn’t there?

  5. Louise says:

    Oh this takes me back to my childhood, spending summers deep in the Welsh countryside next to a rocky stream that flowed to the river Dee.
    Anyway, I love your writing and can you hurry up and write your book please, we all know it’s coming one day so you might as well start tonight ;)

  6. I LOVE rivers.
    Some of our favorites are right in your area…up and over Highway 12.
    The Lochsa.
    The Selway.
    The Clearwater.

  7. Amy says:

    This so so so so reminds me of my hometown and the farm where I grew up. We had riverfront property where my brothers and I LIVED at the river the entire summer. It was never actually warm enough to swim in, but oh did we swim,
    Your girls will grow with the same memories I have.
    You’re right, river talk is universal. We speak the same language.

  8. Maggie says:

    You were able to describe perfectly what I feel in my heart when I am river-bound. Beautiful, summery post.

  9. ctb says:

    oh this creek post delivered! although i am getting goose bumps over here in my wool sweater. its not exactly swimsuit weather yet, thank goodness i can live it through you!

    and that smiling alice face!

  10. Jenn says:

    Such a beautiful spot, and so clear! I could easily spend hours there. Simple pleasures are the best.

  11. FinnyKnits says:

    Creek swimming, alpine lake swimming – it’s one of those pure joys of life.

    And, you’re right, it’s *always* the best idea.

    I never get out when I’m first beckoned. I always go back for one more dunk because *it’s always the right thing to do.*

  12. I know that feeling of the freezing creek water! Ahh, my childhood…

  13. Molly says:

    We’ve been meaning to engage ya’ll in a take-your-breath-away dip in a local stream… this post reminds of how eminently that needs to happen.

    Great pics, great words, great rhythm… I can feel the flow of the water.

  14. Melina says:

    amen to a childhood (and life) on the banks of a cooling river. You just can’t to better.


  15. Ellie says:

    Wow, what magical photos…what a magical place, too. You are so so very lucky (and so discerning in your taste of place). We don’t live anywhere close to water, but we’ve been visiting creeks and rivers the past few weeks, too.

  16. Kelly Cach says:

    homeiswhatyoumakeit above listed all the rivers I was going to mention :)

    So many summer memories along and in the river….especially the skipping rocks and headache inducing cold water kind.

  17. Delhibound says:

    yes yes yes to everything that everyone else commented on, but that swimming suit? That suit, ROCKS.

  18. Katie says:

    Gorgeous! Your last sentence blew me away.

  19. kate says:

    I love your new suit! I got one this year with that same back and I triple LOVE it! So flattering!!
    Your river is fun, too! The rocks … So dreamy!!

  20. Angie says:

    “It’s like the mountains are my future and the river is right now”….love that.

    Angie from Ohio/angiepics on Instagram

  21. rebecca... says:

    ,,,”cowgirl boots full of rocks”, i’m going to be scanning the shelves of book stores for this title. a perfect title for many a book i imagine margot and ruby will lovingly transcribe about their childhood days growing up in montana,,,

  22. April says:

    Love the pic of Alice in the water – she looks happy! I’ve been trying to take my dogs to the river at least every other day. So nice to live so close to the river, we don’t take it for granted either. I especially liked the part where you talk about your ancestors and their relationships to the river. Beautiful.

  23. @rebecca, OH you have no idea how much you’ve turned the kid book wheels in my brain! Thanks for that. Someday, someday…

  24. Brandi Shope says:

    You always make me miss home with your outings and pictures! I love your bathing suit. RED is my color!

  25. TRB Holt says:

    “It’s like the mountains are my future and the river is right now”…!

    I know I have said this a pa-zillion times, I so love that you and my granddaughters are growing up EXACTLY where I did! It’s like I get to live my childhood all over again…in 3 short days I will get to go on the pajama walk and cool my toes in those very waters with you!

    I love you Burb!

    xoxo, Mom

  26. mumofsix says:

    I NEED to find a spot like that

  27. Oh that water looks so refreshing! You are rockin that swimsuit, love Popina!

  28. Daniele says:

    We spent a week in Michigan a few weeks ago. Lake Michigan was freezing too, but felt good in the 100 degree heat. I thought about things just like you mentioned as I watched my girls in the wate….the glaciers that formed the lakes and how massive they were…memories of myself and my sister playing in the lake as kids…remembering my dad sailing in races on the lake…
    Water does something to us–oh the memories we form around water! I personally have almost a magnetic attraction to it.

  29. have says:

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