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Stories from the valley

Bonding on the water-3 surprising Sacramento River moments

Contributed by Jennifer Harrison

It was 7:00 am on Sunday morning and my thirteen year old was nowhere to be found.  Before I panic ensued, logic prevailed and I thought, the water!  Look to the water.

River 2

Water, being the Sacramento River.  I found my bleary eyed girl, along with her father, her father’s best friend from college and his son, down on a dock hoping to land a big one.  Grace had tried fishing for the first time the night before, and she was now, no pun intended, hooked.  On a mere 5 hours of sleep this crew was up, and happily so, enjoying the inherent beauty of the Sacramento Valley a la a tiny dock that is an extension of our friend’s river house in Red Bluff.

While this scene may seem routine to some folks, it emphasized something vital to me, water, our dependency on it, goes deep.  Here are three things that surprised me about our time spent on the Sacramento River.  Read on and consider visiting this great waterway sometime soon.

Water is the great equalizer

Our gang consisted of five kids; they are of different ages, genders, and personalities.  These children see each other but once a year, but the water seemed to erase any social awkwardness that comes with the reacquainting yourself with longtime family friends.  The Sacramento River acted as an instant equalizer.  We did a two-hour long float down the river, providing our children time to bond, connect, and talk.

River 1

Talk they did:  “Look at that hawk!” “I think I saw a fish jump,” “Are those vultures?” “The water is so cold!” “Are there sharks in here?” (asked the younger ones) “No, this is not the ocean!” (retorted the older ones).

River 3

Geography Lesson

The kids learned that if we stayed on the river we could float all the way down through the city of Sacramento and beyond.  It was an instant geography and history lesson all at once.  The topic, the 382-mile long river.  I could see the wheels turning as our children grasped where this river was actually located and it’s importance to this region.

Fish trumps sleep, and that other teen stuff too!

Back to my daughter on the dock.   The lure of the river and the hope of a fish trumped the usual teenage interests that wonderful weekend.  In an age where technology, phones and social media reign supreme in pre-teen and teenager’s minds, the Sacramento River won out.  Real life matters.  That’s something that’s getting harder to convey to a generation glued to their devices.  As spring pushes into summer, I’m eager to get back to the Sacramento River, and the water that helps bond relationships, be it with a float down the river or the hope of catching that fish!