Saturday, June 11, 2011
Day 8 - The Last River Rat
“Hello my fellow travelers in the greater circle of life."
We woke with the sun on Tuesday morning because Kenny Salwey, the Last River Rat, planned to take us to his shack on the backwaters of the Mississippi. We needed to get there before the deer flies woke up. Alas, this time of year they’re bad. Deer flies bite, so we had to cover ourselves completely—not fun in 95 degree heat.
Kenny lived in his shack for 28 years as a hunter, fisherman, and trapper. Visiting his river home was a mystic experience, like walking into a story book and getting to hold the items inside of Hagrid’s hutt. But Kenny is not a fairy tale. He lives with nature. He is real, and he makes nature real too. Many of us live lives greatly removed from nature. Roads and hotels and computers separate us from trees and flowers and animals. It’s almost as though nature itself has become a fairy tale--something we only see on TV or read about in books.
Kenny had a lot of lessons to teach us. We kept voicing up our concerns about the swollen Mississippi waters. “Are we going to tip? Are the waters too fast and too strong?” to which Kenny simply replied, “Don’t fear the river. Respect it.”
Kenny firmly believes that if we are disconnected from the Earth, then we are missing something very important. For us, that lesson was a big one. We aren’t fighting the Mississippi. We aren’t using it. We aren’t separate from it. We are flowing with it. We need to respect its strength and allow it to carry us.