Take me to the river

 

County Dock, St. John's River, Jacksonville, FL

County Dock, St. John's River

Growing up in Florida, I wished we lived on the St. John’s River. It was an unusually fecund river being a tidal estuary -meaning the ocean and river mixed in the waters that coursed through Jacksonville leaving it brackish and home to both freshwater and marine wildlife. At the county dock, which was built and rebuilt once during my childhood and twice more since I have left Jacksonville, you could fish and gaze on the waters and be hypnotized by the press of life. The waters are a deep tea color from the tannins absorbed on the water’s trek from cold springs in the center of the state. It is one of the few north flowing rivers of note, the Amazon and the Nile being others. You could catch blue crabs with chicken parts tied to strings that you dangled off the dock. My bike once fell into the river and I jumped in, about neck high and the feeling of my feet on the unseeable, my soles touching bottom, on the velvety softness of primordial soup interspersed with snail shells, buried tree branches, beer bottles, chicken bones, lingers to this day. The floor of the river was warm like the back of a woman, and as I stood lifting my bike over my head, my feet sank into the mud below the hot layer to a cooler layer of clay that suspended me. I could have stayed rooted in that river forever, with the water high, peering out at the land with my large saucer shaped eyes.

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