Sunday, November 15, 2015

Downstream Toward Home

Photo Credit: Amazon

Downstream Toward Home: A Book of Rivers, by Oliver A. Houck (pub. by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA, 2014, 214pp plus bibliography)

The author shares a lifetime of experiences along roughly 30 rivers and streams that are scattered all over the country, and spanning the years between 1954 and 2013.  The book is a series of short stories that show that rivers just don’t flow and eddy along banks and rocks, but through people’s lives as well.  They include things like describing the types of people and vehicles most likely to help with a shuttle.  He tells about driving down a lonely country trail to check out a potential take-out.  The road ended in a turn-around littered with trash.  As he got out of his car and began to explore, he was still concealed behind some bushes when he observes a man dressed in a business suit and polished black leather shoes throwing dirt into a hole.  His suit jacket is neatly folded and laid over a branch.  He shovels and shovels to fill a rectangular hole just the dimensions needed to bury a human body.  The author quietly turns and follows his tracks back to his car.

The book covers a lot of trips for whitewater drops, but also many where he investigates environmental problems caused by poor governmental planning, or human stupidity or short-sightedness where people kill wildlife just to be killing wildlife, like trapping large birds in leg traps and then shooting them and throwing their bodies out to just float about in large numbers, or crayfish wars.  There are also numerous trips into wild isolated places where humans rarely invade.  

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