My family has been visiting roughly the same spot of the same river in the Sierra Nevada foothills since before I was born. And since before my parents were born. Relatives by marriage bought plots of land next to the river and they built bright, jewel-colored cabins on top of volcanic rock at the top of a hill. It’s a cheap vacation: we’d pay only for gas and groceries and stay with family. Spend all day in the river and the evening relaxing and playing board games. My mom has visited this spot almost every year of her life. This year, we joined her.
I could never fully describe a place like this, but there are aspect that stand out. The water is clean and cold and perfectly clear snow melt from further up the mountain. It shines like glass and feels like ice. The riverbed is carved out of granite and quartz and volcanic rock and filled with boulders, stones, and fine grains of sand. Walking on the sandy riverbed feels like crushed velvet against your toes. It’s unbelievably soft. It’s also thickly coated with grains of iron pyrite so that it sparkles and shines as if littered with gold dust. Isobel was captivated by the sparkles and tried to collect them. I tried to capture the effect with my camera, but I couldn’t do it justice.
Anthony has been to the cabin twice before and Isobel went with us once as a baby. I was so excited to bring her to this place that was so special to me and my family. We collected piles of special rocks and build structures made of sand and driftwood. We floated up and down the river lazily and we hung out in the shallows looking for minnows the size of Isobel’s pinky finger. We chatted with family and the deep shadows of shade and water and bright patches of light and heat soaked into our souls. Being there has a way of rewiring the brain. You always leave feeling better than when you came. And you always leave wanting more.