Cowboy Coffee and Campfire
By Madeline Friend
My clothes smell of cowboy coffee and campfire
on another river morning
when everything is the same
and more different than it has ever been.
I step onto my boat
the one caked in sand and grins
by technicolor webbing and patched-up whims.
Light crests over craggy canyon walls and joins the spooling liquid that escorts crystalline crests, hyaline waves, and you into the swell.
I remember the stretch of early-river spring, of scraping ice off early-morning metal tables, of the sunshine smiles of 60-degree days.
I remember how July drops into August; remember how I can count the rocks in the river – well, most of them.
I remember September the most, wrapped in a season of memories and a heart of laughter, thinking it will all come around back spring.
My clothes smell of linen and distance, extra-wrung like the anxiety in my hands
on these newly structured spring days,
but one jacket, the one jacket never washed,
the 10-year old blue synthetic puffy on its third or fourth zipper,
the one with kaleidoscope patches and stains not remembered any more,
that jacket still smells of cowboy coffee and campfire.
Madeline is a proud GCY alum and guide. Her first GCY trip introduced her to river science, inspiring her to earn a BS in Environmental Sciences-Biology from Northern Arizona University and a MS in Watershed Sciences – Geomorphology and Earth Surface Processes
She has boated extensively in the US, Canada, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, but loves to circle the eddies of Western US rivers best. She guides for OARS Dories in Idaho and Grand Canyon Youth in Arizona and Utah.
You can read more of Madeline’s writing here.
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