They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I believe that to be true. But not only beauty — gloom, fear and various other states of mind depend upon our perception of what we are observing.
When we regard our river, the Columbia River, as it flows through our valley, how do we perceive it?
I have been a frequent visitor to the river over the past 25 years or so and, since we at the Wenatchee Row and Paddle Club keep records of such things, I know that I have averaged about 100 visits per year over that time. So I have observed the river during all seasons of the year and in all weather conditions.
I can tell you that the river has moods, which is to say that I have perceived it in many different ways.
There are times when the sky and the water are dark, cold is in the air and I need courage to move my white, needle-like boat through the black waters. The mood of the river is intimidating. There are times when the wind blows hard and the river says “No! Not today.” Other times, the mood is tumultuous but rewarding if I brave the challenges.
There are times of complete calm after a rain and I feel the river is as it was at the dawn of creation — magically rich in smells and personality.
The river has a silver mood when the light comes in from the side with clouds above and the silver-gray water below.
My favorite is the golden mood which often occurs in the autumn when the thin sunlight illuminates the beautiful trees along the shore and reflects off of the water.
Of course the river does not care how we feel about it — it just is. But it is so much, and it is so different from day to day and season to season, and, it is there for all of us to experience.
Larry Tobiska is a retired attorney who has been active in volunteering for four decades. These columns reflect his special interest in activities on the Columbia River. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.