Sunday, November 09, 2008

River Walk and Yellow Boat

Brent loves exploring along the river, but since I don't like rattlesnakes, I won't go with him during the summer months. Yesterday he decided that it was cool enough that the rattlesnakes would be hibernating. It was time for a river walk.

Although it was overcast, the temperatures were pleasant and there was no wind. Walking along the railroad tracks gave us an easy pathway along the rocky shore. From sagebrush and driftwood, to loons and cormorants, there was much to explore and see.

Brent spotted something yellow in the driftwood along the bank. Can you see it on the lower left of the picture above? He discovered that it was a small boat, crafted out of Popsicle sticks and coated with hot glue or silicone. Dried foam made up the top. Light and watertight, it was ready to sail! In fact, it probably had been sailing, but had been washed ashore during a recent stormy day.

Why am I telling you all this? Seeing this boat flooded my mind with memories. Early memories of one of the first books I remember my mother ever reading to me. Perhaps you have read it too. It's called Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling. It was a 1942 Caldecott Honor Book. This book tells the story of a Canadian Indian boy from Nipigon country in the Canadian wilderness who carves an Indian figure in a small canoe that he names "Paddle-to-the-Sea". Wishing he could go traveling, he cannot. Instead, he sends his small boat afloat with a carved note that says "Put me back in the water. I am Paddle-to-the-Sea". His little boat meets much adventure as it floats from a river near the little boy's home to the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and finally the Atlantic Ocean. Four years of floating to the sea creates a story that captures geography, nature, drama, and adventure. It's an imaginative and captivating story.

As children, my sister and I were inspired by it. We would both create little boats out of whatever materials were near and set them sailing when we were by a river's shore. We hoped our little boats would have as many wonderful adventures as "Paddle-to-the-Sea" did.

I suppose there are some things you never outgrow. It seemed so appropriate to ask Brent to please place "Little Yellow Boat" into the river so it could paddle to the sea as well. It has a long journey ahead, but given enough time and a few hydroelectric dams, it could soon be to ocean shore --- albeit it won't be the Atlantic like the Indian boy's boat, but rather the mighty Pacific. Brent was happy to indulge me and sent the little boat sailing on it's way again.

The sage is fragrant, although it's yellow flowers are drying and it's foliage is taking on blue-gray tones rather than sage-green. It was a pretty resting place for the "Little Yellow Boat --- for awhile. It's on it's way again, taking a journey to the sea. Soon maybe someone will find it as it passes by evergreens and forests as it nears the coast. Who knows where "Little Yellow Boat" might end up. My imagination takes it even farther; to Japan to visit a dear friend or maybe even to Australia.

The adventure, mystery, and intrigue of it all leave much to the imagination, and that's what makes it so much fun!

If you haven't read "Paddle-to-the-Sea" yet, be sure to pick it up at the library. I am quite certain that a youngster you know will enjoy the book immensely (and so will you!).

Enjoy a lovely day! Let the imagination soar!


  1. Oh, I loved the river walk. The little yellow boat is fascinating. Wonder who will find it next. Your photos of our wonderful river are gorgeous. And I COULD smell the sagebrush. I grew up in sagebrush country in Central Oregon and you never forget the smell. Thanks for taking us along with you today. ~Adrienne~

  2. Charming story indeed and I have never heard of it. It sounds like a delightful book to gather in for the grands. What can be better than sparking the imagination as this book continues to do for you. Hope that the little boat makes it to the sea.

  3. Wonderful post...I enjoyed reading about the book and how it influenced you.

  4. A beautiful post!

  5. Good morning LaTeaDah,
    What wonderful photos of the river. I'm guessing it might be the Columbia. The last shot really is dramatic with the land rising so high right next to the river. I think I'll have to check the library and see if I can get my hands on a copy of the book...

  6. I'll be on the look-out for that book later this week when I go to the library. I grew up speaking only French so most children's books (in English) are new to me.

    I have a little boy who's 6, and as I was reading your post, I kept thinking that this is something he would so love to do! What an adventure your little yellow boat is already on! :)

  7. Loved sharing in your walk along the river and finding the little yellow boat. I also had not heard of the book, but it sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures of the river.

  8. Beautiful pictures from the river! Love teh story with the boat.

  9. Anonymous11:24 AM

    It looks like the Columbia to me, too. I'd love to send you a copy of the columns I wrote for The Oregonian about "Paddle-to-the-Sea." Margie Boule


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