The river runs beside the landing broad and brown and has climbed nearly to the top of the boat ramp. Pieces of wood drift lazily down the river, bobbing and churning with the strange whirlpools which appear and then subside. A houseboat which looks like a tug sits near the landing, people sit on the deck of the boat, listening to the music drift up, back and away. Lee Ruth, a fixture of the Columbia music scene and folk music historian is playing tonight, his own music.
It was warm and muggy on Sunday night. I had finished a long bike ride and my legs were sore. Natalie and Chuck were on the couch downstairs watching an old VHS tape. Earlier in the day I had called Chuck and left a message, realizing that it had been over a week, perhaps two, since we had last talked. He texted back "watching babies @ ragtag"..ok.ok. When they finished with the movie they drove to the house and lounged, waiting for me to get home, waiting for Chuck's appointment to get another tattoo.
There was an hour and a half free. I invited them down to Cooper's for Thai food and conversation. For river views and music. Changing into dry clothes and gathering bags and cash I bundled into the car, Nat calling "shotgun" and Chuck clambering into the back seat. We visited, catching up. "My three-d ultra-sound is coming up, I'll let you know when." Natalie told me while I absently responded, great! and watched the road. The grasses growing long near the edge, the trees green and verdant, plowed fields worn from rain with pools and puddles. "It's so pretty out here."..Natalie was saying while Chuck sat in the back, the wind blowing his hair.
We drove down K taking an easy left onto the road, now paved, with the "Cooper's Landing" sign at the entrance. We arrived and parked. The small lot was nearly full. A man was folding something on a picnic table. Weekend and long-term campers had filled the vacancies in the small campground. We ordered our food. The river was high. The kids saw people they know. I bought a Mike's Hard Mango drink and drank thirstily, talking to the girl behind the counter while Nat and Chuck perused the tea selections.
Walking to the small trailer that houses the Thai food, the big guy behind the counter called our names. It was lovely. We picked up our full plates, the roasted meat on a stick. The rice. The greens. And headed for a table. The river beside us. People, bicyclists and others clattered and strolled by. Music played in the background. Six-thirty, nearing seven and the sun was still in the sky moving towards the horizon. Periodically people would clap when a song finished. The hum of conversation buzzed quietly around us. Natalie, obviously pregnant, and Chuck sat on one side of the table, I sat on the other. We ate and talked more, catching up with each other's lives.
The narrow road back to N had a sign up, notifying drivers that it was closed. I drove around that sign and stayed the course. The water had receded enough that the road was open and dry. The river swirled near its edge. The kids loved it, because, they are still kids. Both shouting "shotgun" as we walked to the car.