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Last day at the river

Last day at the river

by Wolf Pascoe on September 3, 2012

We cannot walk into the same river twice, for the waters are ever flowing on.
— Lucretius, On the Nature of Things

Nick, Nora, and I spend our last day in Portland with Nick’s best friend Jay, Jay’s two-egg twin Caroline, and their mother Jennifer.

Jay and his family have just moved to Portland, and our day at the children’s museum seems weighted with the awareness that when Nick returns to Fern Hill, Jay will no longer be there.

“You know,” Nick says to Jay at one point, “This is probably the last time we’ll see each other.”

“We’ll see each other when we come back at Halloween,” Jay says matter-of-factly.

“Plus you’ll be moving here in three years.”





A while later Nick and I share a moment alone.

“I wonder how you’re feeling about Jay,” I say.

As a Fern Hill dad, I’ve been trained in the sensitive way we must talk to kids.

“Dad,” Nick says to me, “Nobody is around forever. Your problem is you have to move on.”

What th?

I can’t tell if Nick is putting on a brave face or if he’s become self-actualized and is channeling Lucretius.

I for one am not self-actualized.

“My friend, you need to move to Portland,” Kyle commented on last week’s post. And Barbara.

What does everyone know that I don’t?




After dinner at a riverside restaurant the six of us stand on a cliff looking over the water.

“Look!” Caroline says. “A beaver!”

We’re only a few minutes from downtown, but the Willamette is wild here. Far below us a beaver appears to be swimming across the river.

A dog jumps in and swims after him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a beaver in the wild, but I’m certain I’ve never seen one chased by a dog.

Half way across the beaver senses the dog and dives. The dog swims gamely on.

“I’ve never seen a dog swim across a river,” Jay says.

“I saw a penguin on roller-skates once on television,” I say to no one in particular.


A whistle from the shore and the dog turns around and paddles back. At any moment I expect him to give up and disappear, but he doesn’t give up. Far below us he emerges from the water, shakes himself out, and trots off with his human.

“Another day, another river?” I mutter as he disappears.

I’m a dog, he calls back. Not a comment on your life.



Of best friends and play overs




I think that the river is a strong, brown god, The Dry Salvages (T.S. Eliot)




Speak to me of rivers. Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara September 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Oh, that moment when our kids become the philosophers giving us life advice, instead of the other way around. Welcome to my club (I’m saying with a giggle.) What I know is you are in love with Portland and you will never be satisfied until you live there. The good thing is, if another place starts tugging at your heart, you can move again. Moving to Austin in my 30’s from a place I’d lived all my life was so hard. I was full of doubts and anxiety over it. Then we moved and I wasn’t homesick a single day. I regretted not moving sooner. I think that’s what will happen to you.


Wolf Pascoe September 4, 2012 at 12:31 am

I listen to all my kid’s philosophizing. He listens to none of mine.


jennifer September 3, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Jay and I have a lump in our throats. We miss you guys.
Jay wears Nick’s hand-me-down pajamas every night and
comments on how kind Nick was to give them to him.
Come to Portland — It’s amazing.


Wolf Pascoe September 4, 2012 at 12:28 am



Robin September 4, 2012 at 12:56 am

“What does everyone know that I don’t?”

Everyone knew which college I had chosen before I did. The losses of the colleges I did not attend were not theirs to suffer.


Wolf Pascoe September 4, 2012 at 1:03 am

Bless you.


Kyle Bradford September 4, 2012 at 4:27 am

Not only can we not step into the same river twice, we aren’t the same person once we do.


Wolf Pascoe September 5, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Maybe I’ll play it safe and only step in once?


Jim Parkevich September 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hi Wolf..
Maybe.? Maybe it was the beaver…ever think of that ?? Not only can I walk in the water..I am free and wild, to swim the river and make my home amid the reeds, to work hard, make a secure lodge for my home, to use the resources so close around me.
There is no concrete, smog, long commutes, I will use simply what nature offers me and be content..I am envious of beavers…and all wild creatures..They seem to know something we don’t.


Wolf Pascoe September 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

You sold me. I don’t want to be a bird anymore. I want to be a beaver.


Kristen @ Motherese September 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I’m not the biggest fan of dogs, but they have interesting things to say sometimes, even when they’re not really saying anything at all.


Wolf Pascoe September 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm

My dog says, “Leaves? I thought they were birds!”


The Exception September 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I love it when my daughter says something profound on her own and am stunned when she practices something I tried to teach her years earlier but I thought didn’t stick.
It sounds like a lovely day and your heart will be ready when it is time for you to move…


Wolf Pascoe September 15, 2012 at 1:31 am

I am also always amazed when my son appears to have taken in something I’ve tried to teach him, especially as he never appears to be listening.


Pamela September 15, 2012 at 6:49 am

I think maybe self actualization happens when you can see a mountain – or a dog – and not see it as a comment on your life. Wise dad. Wise boy.


Wolf Pascoe September 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm

What about blog comments?


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