Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sibling Assignment #132: Fear of The Clearwater River

The Clearwater River and Orofino, Idaho

For this sibling assignment, InlandEmpireGirl made it simple: The Clearwater River. InlandEmpireGirl remembers past fears, and enjoys how calm the river looks today, here. Silver Valley Girl once feared being eaten alive by sharks in the Clearwater River, but got over it, and just took her daughters, a niece, three dogs, and her husband to the Clearwater River, here.

It's an Orofino Creamery truck. I'll say it's white. Mostly what I see is two red dots in the back as the truck belly flops off Highway 12 and into the Clearwater River.

I'll say it happens near Peck. It seems like that's close to where Aunt Lila nearly drowned in the Clearwater River as a girl.

It was a recurrent dream when I was a kid, the creamery truck going into the Clearwater River.

The dream was like a movie playing out my mother's fears of the Clearwater River.

Mom loved the river's meandering calm in August when our family traveled along the Clearwater River out of Lewiston on our way to vacation for a week or so in Orofino.

But the Clearwater River frightened her. It was where Lila nearly drowned. She'd seen the Clearwater River flood the Clearwater County Fairgrounds.

Cars went off the highway. They plunged into the Clearwater River.

Mom's fears made their way into my dream world, maybe as an act of sharing in Mom's anxiety so she didn't have to feel her fear of the Clearwater River alone.

On July 9, 2010 I saw my cousin Cyndi at our family's Last Cousin Standing Hootenanny at Lura and Lyle's place in Riverside, a section of Orofino near the Clearwater River.

I hadn't seen Cyndi since 1975 and that weekend back in 1975 was a reunion at our recently deceased cousin John's place and when Cyndi's memory goes back to that weekend, she remembers me as better and stronger than I was or am.

She remembers us going to Zann's Beach just east of Orofino on the Clearwater River and remembers me swimming across.

I know I didn't. For starters, I was physically unable to perform such a task because of the way the sulfur dioxide and zinc, cadmium, and magnesium dust had injured my respiratory system just two summers earlier when I fell to the bottom of a roaster at the Zinc Plant at the Bunker Hill Company.

Even if I'd been healthy, though, I doubt my psyche could withstand a swim across the Clearwater River. Repeated dreams of an Orofino Creamery truck going off Highway 12 and sinking into the Clearwater River so frightened me that no matter whether we went to Beaver Dam on the North Fork of the Clearwater River or to Zann's Beach on the main fork, I only waded or let currents running in shallow water carry me near the shore.

I also respected my mother's fear of the Clearwater River. I know I didn't swim across the Clearwater River because it would have shaken my mother.

Someone who remembers Orofino history better than I will have to tell me if they remember an Orofino Creamery truck in the waking world going off Highway 12 into the Clearwater River.

When Dad drove us down Highway 12, Mom acted like such a thing had happened as she drove her foot into the floorboard, braking, digging her nails into the car seat, sucking on gulps of air.

Today the Clearwater River along Highway 12 is better guarded by cement barriers and improved guard rails. Many stretches of Highway 12 from Lewiston to Orofino have been straightened. It seems a safer road.

Still, when I've taken Mom on a trip to Orofino from Kellogg, I'll suggest we go the back way, over the Cavendish Grade, down to Kendrick, and then up the hill to Troy and over to Moscow and up Highway 95 to Coeur d'Alene and on to Kellogg or we'll go from Kendrick up to Deary and Harvard and on to St. Maries and Rose Lake and take in the white pines and go to Kellogg that way.

It takes longer.

But it keeps us off the Clearwater River.

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