Mile 786, Across from Osceola, AR – November 19, 2012
A moment after pulling the Looksha onto a sandbar, everything becomes routine. Opening hatches, shifting gear, putting together my tent, starting the stove, inflating my mattress, pulling out my sleeping bag, cooking dinner, eating–it all happens without much thought. Everything has a place, an order.
It feels simple now.
Then I look at the sand, at my footprints circling the boat, going here and there, around and over, and it seems complex. Hundreds of steps smash together from every direction. The ground looks like a child scribbled circles on a piece of paper.
Only the edges make sense–my bare feet coming from the shore, the line of footprints out to a piece of driftwood and back–the middle is all chaos. It feels out-of-place against the simple tracks left by a raccoon along the bank or the long steps of a heron taking flight.
Sometimes I wish I had a broom.
Then I wake up in the morning and the routine runs in reverse. Stuffing bags, breaking down the tent, packing holds, snapping hatches closed, shifting gear, again without much thought, just a routine to follow, leaving a chaos of prints in their wake. Nothing is discernible but two bare feet marking the sand, pulling something heavy out of the chaos and back to the river.